A study of the effects of cranial electrical stimulation on attention and concentration

Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1999 Jan-Mar;34(1):43-53. doi: 10.1007/BF02688709.


There have been several anecdotal accounts that cranial electrical stimulation (CES) enhances attention and the ability to learn new tasks in a normal population, but only one published investigation confirms that CES improves attention using the Alpha Stim CES (Madden and Kirsch, 1987). The purpose of this study was to corroborate the findings of Madden and Kirsch, using more precise measures of attention, such as a Continuous Performance Test (CPT). A pretest and posttest CPT was given to two groups using the LISS CES device. The control group consisted of twenty-one subjects who received the placebo treatment. The experimental group of thirty-one subjects received twenty minutes of CES. Four measures of the CPT show significant gains in attention: Number of Hits, p =.010 Hit RT ISI Change, p =.016, Risk Taking, p =.055; and Attentiveness, p =.054. Based on subjects who demonstrated improvement by one standard deviation on two different measures of the CPT, thirty-one percent of the experimental group improved versus four percent of the control group. The use of CES as a method of increasing attention is a promising area that requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents