Transcranial direct current stimulation versus caffeine

21 Nov

A paper presented at Neuroscience 2014 reports that transcranial direct current stimulation is superior to caffeine in boosting alertness and mental performance. Here is the abstract:

“Background: Sleep deprivation from extended duty hours is a common complaint for many occupations. Caffeine is one of the most common countermeasures used to combat fatigue. However, the benefits of caffeine decline over time and with chronic use. Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied to the pre-frontal cortex at 2 mA for 30 minutes to remediate the effects of sleep deprivation and to compare the behavioral effects of tDCS with those of caffeine. Methods: Three groups of 10 participants each received either active tDCS with placebo gum, caffeine gum with sham tDCS, or sham tDCS with placebo gum during 30 hours of extended wakefulness. Results: Our results show that tDCS prevented a decrement in vigilance and led to better subjective ratings for fatigue, drowsiness, energy, and composite mood compared to caffeine and control in sleep-deprived individuals. Both the tDCS and caffeine produced similar improvements in latencies on a short-term memory task and faster reaction times in a psychomotor task when compared to the placebo group. Interestingly, changes in accuracy for the tDCS group were not correlated to changes in mood; whereas, there was a relationship for the caffeine and sham groups. Conclusion: Our data suggests that tDCS could be a useful fatigue countermeasure and may be more beneficial than caffeine since boosts in performance and mood last several hours.”



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