Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Short-Term Outcome Study

Behav Sci (Basel). 2017 Sep 17;7(3):63. doi: 10.3390/bs7030063.


Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS) is a relatively new therapeutic approach that has shown beneficial effects in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). One question to be answered is how enduring its neuromodulatory effect could be. Twenty-four patients with ASD (mean age: 12.2 years) received 20 sessions of NIBS over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (L-DLPFC). They were randomized into two groups with two (G1) or three (G2) clinical evaluations before NIBS. Both groups had a complete follow-up at six months after the intervention, with the aim of determining the short-term outcome using the total score on the Autism Behavior Checklist, Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, and the Autism Diagnostic Interview. Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) was used in ASD patients aged <11 years, and repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) for 11-13-year-olds. Observation points were at one, three, and six months after completing all the sessions of NIBS. A significant reduction in the total score on the three clinical scales was observed and maintained during the first six months after treatment, with a slight and non-significant tendency to increase the scores in the last evaluation. Twenty sessions of NIBS over the L-DLPFC improves autistic symptoms in ASD children, with a lasting effect of six months.

Keywords: autism; repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; transcranial direct current stimulation.