Daily transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) leads to greater increases in cortical excitability than second daily transcranial direct current stimulation

Brain Stimul. 2012 Jul;5(3):208-213. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 May 20.


Background: Evidence from recent clinical trials suggests that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may have potential in treating neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the optimal frequency at which tDCS sessions should be administered is unknown.

Objective/hypothesis: This study investigated the effects of daily or second daily tDCS sessions on motor cortical excitability, over a 5-day period.

Methods: Twelve healthy volunteers received daily or second daily sessions of tDCS to the left primary motor cortex over the study period, in a randomized, intraindividual crossover design. Motor cortical excitability was assessed before and after tDCS at each session through responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Results: Over a fixed 5-day period, tDCS induced greater increases in MEP amplitude when given daily rather than second daily. Analyses showed that this difference reflected greater cumulative effects between sessions rather than a greater response to each individual tDCS session.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that in the motor cortex of healthy volunteers, tDCS alters cortical excitability more effectively when given daily rather than second daily over a 5-day period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult