The application of tDCS for the treatment of psychiatric diseases

Authors: Kuo MF; Chen PS; Nitsche MA.

Neuroplasticity represents the dynamic structural and functional reorganization of the central nervous system, including its connectivity, due to environmental and internal demands. It is recognized as a major physiological basis for adaption of cognition and behaviour, and, thus, of utmost importance for normal brain function. Cognitive dysfunctions are major symptoms in psychiatric disorders, which are often associated with pathological alteration of neuroplasticity. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a recently developed non-invasive brain stimulation technique, is able to induce and modulate cortical plasticity in humans via the application of relatively weak current through the scalp of the head. It has the potential to alter pathological plasticity and restore dysfunctional cognitions in psychiatric diseases. In the last decades, its efficacy to treat psychiatric disorders has been explored increasingly. This review will give an overview of pathological alterations of plasticity in psychiatric diseases, gather clinical studies involving tDCS to ameliorate symptoms, and discuss future directions of application, with an emphasis on optimizing stimulation effects.

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