Transcranial direct current stimulation

What is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)?

tDCS is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation similar to transcranial magnetic stimulation, but instead of using magnets, it uses a low-intensity, constant current applied through scalp electrodes. Generally, anodal stimulation induces an increase of cortical excitability, whereas cathodal stimulation decreases cortical excitability, with effects that last beyond the stimulation period. Dose involves current intensity, duration of stimulation and size of electrodes. While most people with schizophrenia respond adequately to antipsychotic medication, some find it is not completely effective for all of their symptoms. tDCS is currently being investigated as an additional treatment for these people.

What is the evidence for tDCS?

Moderate to low quality evidence finds a large effect of greater improvement in auditory hallucinations with tDCS given twice-daily or over 10 sessions. Over 10 sessions may also improve negative symptoms.

Moderate quality evidence finds a medium-sized effect of greater improvement in working memory, but not other cognitive domains, with prefrontal tDCS.

September 2020

Last updated at: 5:47 am, 10th September 2020
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