Study Questions Value of Transcranial Direct-current Stimulation

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
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Looking for reading material for patients curious about undergoing transcranial electrical brain stimulation to improve their mood or memory? A meta-analysis by Australian researchers may be a good place to start, at least when it comes to answering questions from patients eager to improve cognition. 

Neuroscientists at the University of Melbourne examined 59 analyses of transcranial direct- current stimulation in a quantitative review. In specific, they examined studies of transcranial electrical stimulation’s effect on how well subjects performed in cognitive and behavioral tasks, including tests of recall and response time. The conclusion? Single-session transcranial direct- current stimulation did not have any significant effect on any of the measures studied.

Notably, the meta-analysis did not involve indirect approaches, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation. Nor did it include studies of transcranial electrical brain stimulation’s effect on mood.

Here’s the write-up in IEEE Spectrum, and here’s an abstract.