Therapeutic effects of non-invasive brain stimulation with direct currents (tDCS) in neuropsychiatric diseases

Neuroimage. 2014 Jan 15;85 Pt 3:948-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.117. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Neuroplasticity, which is the dynamic structural and functional reorganization of central nervous system connectivity due to environmental and internal demands, is recognized as a major physiological basis for adaption of cognition, and behavior, and thus of utmost importance for normal brain function. Pathological alterations of plasticity are increasingly explored as pathophysiological foundation of diverse neurological and psychiatric diseases. Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (NIBS), such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), are able to induce and modulate neuroplasticity in humans. Therefore, they have potential to alter pathological plasticity on the one hand, and foster physiological plasticity on the other, in neuropsychiatric diseases to reduce symptoms, and enhance rehabilitation. tDCS is an emerging NIBS tool, which induces glutamatergic plasticity via application of relatively weak currents through the scalp in humans. In the last years its efficacy to treat neuropsychiatric diseases has been explored increasingly. In this review, we will give an overview of pathological alterations of plasticity in neuropsychiatric diseases, gather clinical studies involving tDCS to ameliorate symptoms, and discuss future directions of application, with an emphasis on optimizing stimulation effects.

Keywords: AD; Alzheimer's disease; DLPFC; Depression; ERCP; LTD; LTP; NIBS; Neuroplasticity; Non-invasive brain stimulation; OCD; Pain; TPC; Therapy; Transcranial direct current stimulation; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreaticography; long term depression; long term potentiation; non-invasive brain stimulation; obsessive compulsive disorder; rTMS; repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; tDCS; temporoparietal cortex; transcranial direct current stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Tinnitus / therapy