Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for the Treatment of Refractory Symptoms of Schizophrenia. Current Evidence and Future Directions.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Curr Pharm Des, Volume 21, Issue 23, p.3373-83 (2015)


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Antipsychotic Agents, Brain, Brain Waves, Cognition, Drug Resistance, Female, Forecasting, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neuronal Plasticity, Practice Guidelines as Topic, Schizophrenia, Schizophrenic Psychology, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, Treatment Outcome, Young Adult


<p>Schizophrenia is a severe and frequent neuropsychiatric disorder. Despite antipsychotic medications, up to 30% of patients with schizophrenia still report disabling treatment-resistant symptoms. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been proposed as a novel method to alleviate such symptoms. Here, we review studies investigating the effects of tDCS on symptoms, cognition, brain activity and cortical plasticity in patients with schizophrenia. We provide an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the use of tDCS in patients with schizophrenia. More specifically, we first present the effects of tDCS on treatment-resistant symptoms of schizophrenia. We report that tDCS applied over the frontotemporal regions reduced auditory hallucinations, with a mean 34% reduction of symptoms. Moreover, tDCS applied over both prefrontal cortices reduced negative symptoms and catatonia. We discuss the need for further sham-controlled studies to confirm these effects. Second, we present the impact of tDCS on cognitive functions in patients with schizophrenia. Positive effects of tDCS have been reported on learning, working memory, attention and source-monitoring. Third, we review the effects of tDCS on brain activity in patients with schizophrenia. Although only few studies investigated the effects of tDCS using neuroimaging technics, these studies are helpful at identifying the mechanisms of action of tDCS in schizophrenia. Fourth, we present tDCS studies on cortical plasticity showing reduced cortical plasticity in patients with schizophrenia that tDCS may beneficially modulate. Lastly, we discuss the safety aspects of tDCS in patients with schizophrenia and potential directions to improve efficacy for this clinical populations.</p>

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