The midbrain lies deep within the brain and has an important role in reward, motivation, movement and the pathophysiology of various neuropsychiatric disorders such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, depression and addiction. To date, the primary means of acting on this region has been with pharmacological interventions or implanted electrodes. Here we introduce a new noninvasive brain stimulation technique that exploits the highly interconnected nature of the midbrain and prefrontal cortex to stimulate deep brain regions. Using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the prefrontal cortex, we were able to remotely activate the interconnected midbrain and cause increases in participants' appraisals of facial attractiveness. Participants with more enhanced prefrontal/midbrain connectivity following stimulation exhibited greater increases in attractiveness ratings. These results illustrate that noninvasive direct stimulation of prefrontal cortex can induce neural activity in the distally connected midbrain, which directly effects behavior. Furthermore, these results suggest that this tDCS protocol could provide a promising approach to modulate midbrain functions that are disrupted in neuropsychiatric disorders.
- Brain stimulation
- Prefrontal cortex
- Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry