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Humans today are routinely and increasingly presented with vast quantities of data that challenge their capacity for efficient processing. To restore the balance between man and machine, it is worthwhile to explore new methods for enhancing or accelerating this capacity. This study was designed to investigate the efficacy of transcranial DC stimulation (tDCS) to reduce training time and increase proficiency in spatial recognition using a simulated synthetic aperture radar (SAR) task. Twenty-seven Air Force active duty members volunteered to participate in the study. Each participant was assigned to 1 of 3 stimulation groups and received two, 90-min training sessions on a target search and identification task using SAR imagery followed by a test. The tDCS anode was applied to site F10 according to the 10 –20 electro-encephalographic electrode convention while the cathode was placed on the contralateral bicep. Group 1 received anodal tDCS at 2 mA for 30 min in the first training session and sham tDCS in the second session. Group 2 received the stimulation conditions in the opposite order. Group 3 did not receive stimulation at all. Results showed that participants receiving training plus tDCS attained visual search accuracies ~25% higher than those provided with sham stimulation or no stimulation. However, a corresponding performance improvement was not found in the first training session for the change detection portion of the task. This indicates that experience with the imagery is important in the tDCS-elicited performance improvements in change detection.


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