Potential scalp stimulation targets for mental disorders: evidence from neuroimaging studies

J Transl Med. 2021 Aug 10;19(1):343. doi: 10.1186/s12967-021-02993-1.


Mental disorders widely contribute to the modern global disease burden, creating a significant need for improvement of treatments. Scalp stimulation methods (such as scalp acupuncture and transcranial electrical stimulation) have shown promising results in relieving psychiatric symptoms. However, neuroimaging findings haven't been well-integrated into scalp stimulation treatments. Identifying surface brain regions associated with mental disorders would expand target selection and the potential for these interventions as treatments for mental disorders. In this study, we performed large-scale meta-analyses separately on eight common mental disorders: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, compulsive disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia; utilizing modern neuroimaging literature to summarize disorder-associated surface brain regions, and proposed neuroimaging-based target protocols. We found that the medial frontal gyrus, the supplementary motor area, and the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex are commonly involved in the pathophysiology of mental disorders. The target protocols we proposed may provide new brain targets for scalp stimulation in the treatment of mental disorders, and facilitate its clinical application.

Keywords: Mental disorder; Meta-analysis; Neuroimaging; Scalp acupuncture; Scalp stimulation; Transcranial electrical stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnostic imaging
  • Bipolar Disorder* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / diagnostic imaging
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Neuroimaging
  • Scalp