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Food for Thought: Neurostimulation

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Center for BrainHealth

Promising Outcomes and Potential Future Treatments In the last 15 years, researchers have investigated the benefits of tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation), a non-invasive neurostimulation that uses direct electric current to stimulate the brain in a wide range of conditions such as chronic pain, stroke, aphasia, tinnitus, depression, schizophrenia, migraine, fibromyalgia, and Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Sven Vanneste, Center for BrainHealth’s newly appointed director of neuromodulation, will be spearheading new initiatives to understand the underlying neural mechanisms in neurological and psychiatric diseases and developing novel treatments using invasive and non-invasive neurostimulation. Center for BrainHealth researchers, in collaboration with a neurosurgeon at the University of Otago in New Zealand, recently published a comprehensive review and best practices for two types of tDCS: conventional tDCS and high-definition tDCS. “tDCS has been found to be a safe and well-tolerated investigational device as well as a treatment tool when used within the standard parameters,” explained Dr. Wing Ting To, a research scientist at Center for BrainHealth and lead author of the article that appears in the journal Expert Review of Medical Devices.

How it works

The most commonly used equipment for tDCS involves two saline-soaked sponges, electrodes (typically conductive rubber), non-conductive elastic straps, cables, and a battery-powered direct current delivering device. HD-tDCS uses an array of electrodes, instead of two large pads, that can be placed in specific configurations to more reliably target specific brain areas and produce brain changes that may outlast conventional tDCS.   Figure provided courtesy of Dr. Marom Bikson and the Neural Engineering Group, The City College of New York

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