Skepticism about transcranial direct current brain stimulation

30 Jan

I have been following research about  transcranial direct current stimulation with great interest.  A number of papers have reported on the cognitive enhancing effects of this simple intervention. But now we are seeing skepticism emerge.

The New Scientist reports:

“In recent years tCDS has been shown to improve everything from memory to mathematical ability in healthy volunteers and has even found its way into commercial, performance-enhancing products. But according to Jared Horvath and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne in Australia, it might not be all that.”

You can read the abstract of the original paper here and a related paper here. From its conclusion:

“Our quantitative review does not support the idea that tDCS generates a reliable effect on cognition in healthy adults. Reasons for and limitations of this finding are discussed. This work raises important questions regarding the efficacy of tDCS, state-dependency effects, and future directions for this tool in cognitive research.”

There is a recurring pattern in research on cognitive enhancement: initial enthusiasm followed by failure to replicate and declining effect sizes. These papers suggest that tCDS may be following this pattern. Stay tuned.

 

One Response to “Skepticism about transcranial direct current brain stimulation”

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  1. New transcranial direct current stimulation platform | peakmemory - May 1, 2015

    […] that many questions about transcranial direct current stimulation of the brain remain […]

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