Projekt 5: Dr. Katharina Rufener und Dr. Tino Zähle

c_CBBS_ZähleInvestigating the increasing effect of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) on a language skills training in Developmental Dyslexia

This research project aims to investigate the effect of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) on impaired reading and writing skills in children and adolescent patients suffering from developmental dyslexia (DD) – a neuropsychiatric disorder with a prevalence of about 10%. Existing interventions lead to only limited success, and the disease persist throughout life. DD associated pathological reading and writing skills are the results of severe deficits in low-level auditory processing that impair an accurate perception of linguistically meaningful information units in the speech signal. Dysfunctional endogenous oscillations in the gamma range (about 40 Hz) represent the neural basis of this diminished auditory processing in DD patients. Normalizing the pathologically altered neural oscillations is therefore the first step to recover auditory processes and to facilitate the acquisition of higher order language skills essential for successful reading and writing.
In previous work, we demonstrated the supportive effect of tACS on auditory processing in adolescent as well as in adult DD patients. Based on these results the planned project will systematically assess the effect of repeated tACS application on a combined auditory and orthographic training in DD children and adolescents. The training will consist of 10 sessions over a period of 10 weeks. Immediate effects after completing the training as well as long-term effects six month after the intervention will be assessed. In addition to reading and writing performance direct electrophysiological measures will be analyzed to quantify the effect of the tACS application.
In sum, the proposed research project combines basic and applied science in the context of impaired auditory processing in DD aiming to evaluate tACS as a potential adjuvant to conventional interventions in DD.

The project is located at the Section Neuropsychology (Dr. Tino Zaehle) and will be carried out in cooperation with the Department for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Magdeburg (Dr. Kerstin Krauel) where a data pool of DD patients and a clinical routine to diagnose DD is already established. Due to the enormous potential of transcranial electrical stimulation on perception and cognition, future collaboration with other research groups at the CBBS will be initiated.


01.06.2018 – 31.05.2021