Remotely Supervised Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Increases the Benefit of At-Home Cognitive Training in Multiple Sclerosis

Neuromodulation. 2018 Jun;21(4):383-389. doi: 10.1111/ner.12583. Epub 2017 Feb 22.

Abstract

Objective: To explore the efficacy of remotely-supervised transcranial direct current stimulation (RS-tDCS) paired with cognitive training (CT) exercise in participants with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: In a feasibility study of RS-tDCS in MS, participants completed ten sessions of tDCS paired with CT (1.5 mA × 20 min, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex montage). RS-tDCS participants were compared to a control group of adults with MS who underwent ten 20-min CT sessions through the same remotely supervised procedures. Cognitive outcomes were tested by composite scores measuring change in performance on standard tests (Brief International Cognitive Assessment in MS or BICAMS), basic attention (ANT-I Orienting and Attention Networks, Cogstate Detection), complex attention (ANT-I Executive Network, Cogstate Identification and One-Back), and intra-individual response variability (ANT-I and Cogstate identification; sensitive markers of disease status).

Results: After ten sessions, the tDCS group (n = 25) compared to the CT only group (n = 20) had significantly greater improvement in complex attention (p = 0.01) and response variability (p = 0.01) composites. The groups did not differ in measures of basic attention (p = 0.95) or standard cognitive measures (p = 0.99).

Conclusions: These initial findings indicate benefit for RS-tDCS paired with CT in MS. Exploratory analyses indicate that the earliest tDCS cognitive benefit is seen in complex attention and response variability. Telerehabilitation using RS-tDCS combined with CT may lead to improved outcomes in MS.

Keywords: Cognitive; multiple sclerosis; remotely supervised; tDCS; telerehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods*