Controlling the anchoring effect through transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

Jianbiao Li, Xile Yin, Dahui Li, Xiaoli Liu, Guangrong Wang, Liang Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Selective accessibility mechanisms indicate that anchoring effects are results of selective retrieval of working memory. Neuroimaging studies have revealed that the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is closely related to memory retrieval and performance. However, no research has investigated the effect of changing the cortical excitability in right DLPFC on anchoring effects. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can modulate the excitability of the human cerebral cortex, while anodal and cathodal tDCS are postulated to increase or decrease cortical activity, respectively. In this study, we used tDCS to investigate whether effects of increased or decreased right DLPFC excitability influence anchoring effects in willingness to pay (WTP) experiments. Ninety participants were first randomly assigned to receive either anodal, cathodal, or sham stimulation of 15 min, then they performed a valuation task regarding WTP. The results showed that anchoring effects were negatively related to activities of right DLPFC: the anodal stimulation diminished anchoring effects while the cathodal stimulation increased anchoring effects. These outcomes provide one of the first instances of neural evidence for the role of the right DLPFC in anchoring effects and support psychological explanations of the selective accessibility mechanisms and cognitive sets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1079
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - Jun 28 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Fund of China (Grant number: 71673152, 71372094, and 71533002).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Li, Yin, Li, Liu, Wang and Qu.


  • Anchoring effects
  • Cognitive sets
  • Selective accessibility
  • TDCS
  • Willingness to pay (WTP)


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