Neurobiological Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: A Review

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Neurobiological Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: A Review

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Title: Neurobiological Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: A Review
Author: Medeiros, Liciane Fernandes; de Souza, Izabel Cristina Custodio; Vidor, Liliane Pinto; de Souza, Andressa; Deitos, Alícia; Volz, Magdalena Sarah; Fregni, Felipe; Caumo, Wolnei; Torres, Iraci L. S.

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Citation: Medeiros, Liciane Fernandes, Izabel Cristina Custodio de Souza, Liliane Pinto Vidor, Andressa de Souza, Alícia Deitos, Magdalena Sarah Volz, Felipe Fregni, Wolnei Caumo, and Iraci L. S. Torres. 2012. Neurobiological effects of transcranial direct current stimulation: a review. Frontiers in Psychiatry 3:110.
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Abstract: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that is affordable and easy to operate compared to other neuromodulation techniques. Anodal stimulation increases cortical excitability, while the cathodal stimulation decreases it. Although tDCS is a promising treatment approach for chronic pain as well as for neuropsychiatric diseases and other neurological disorders, several complex neurobiological mechanisms that are not well understood are involved in its effect. The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize the current knowledge regarding the neurobiological mechanisms involved in the effects of tDCS. The initial search resulted in 171 articles. After applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, we screened 32 full-text articles to extract findings about the neurobiology of tDCS effects including investigation of cortical excitability parameters. Overall, these findings show that tDCS involves a cascade of events at the cellular and molecular levels. Moreover, tDCS is associated with glutamatergic, GABAergic, dopaminergic, serotonergic, and cholinergic activity modulation. Though these studies provide important advancements toward the understanding of mechanisms underlying tDCS effects, further studies are needed to integrate these mechanisms as to optimize clinical development of tDCS.
Published Version: doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2012.00110
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