tDCS for Auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia

Learn more about the use of tDCS for Auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia, how it works and the scientific evidence behind it.


What is tDCS?

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive, well-tolerated neurostimulation treatment. In practice, tDCS involves attaching an anode and cathode electrode to the head producing a weak electrical current that is applied to the brain. Several studies have shown positive effects on a range of conditions. tDCS equipment is easy to use, and the treatment is painless and safe. When combined with other therapies, tDCS can enhance their positive effects. Depending on the voltage, duration, polarity, and location of the electrodes, the applied current has an inhibiting or stimulating effect. tDCS modifies the resting membrane potential, either promoting or inhibiting the transmission of information. This allows the therapist to modulate neuronal excitability and activity levels. 



Why tDCS for Auditory hallucinations?

Researchers and therapists are interested in exploring tDCS as a treatment for auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia due to its potential to offer a safe, non-invasive, and potentially effective approach. Conventional treatments may not fully address auditory hallucinations in some patients. tDCS can induce synaptic changes and promote neuroplasticity, potentially modulating brain activity and reducing hallucinations. It is well-tolerated and shows promising initial results. With the potential for lasting effects, tDCS could become a valuable addition to schizophrenia treatment options, providing relief for those who do not respond well to traditional medications. Further research aims to establish its efficacy and long-term benefits. 

Is tDCS for Auditory hallucinations scientifically proven?

tDCS has ‘Level B’ evidence, which is considered to be ‘probably effective’ in the treatment of auditory hallucinatins in schizophrenia. This level includes evidence from well-conducted clinical trials without randomization, case-control studies, or cohort studies. While not as strong as Level A evidence, Level B still provides moderate support for the therapy's effectiveness. 

In a study by Brunelin and colleagues in 2012, researchers aimed to find a new treatment for patients with schizophrenia who experience auditory verbal hallucinations and do not respond well to regular medications. They used a technique called transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) to stimulate specific areas of the brain associated with these symptoms. The treatment involved applying a weak electrical current through electrodes placed on the head for 20 minutes, twice a day, for five consecutive weekdays. 

The results showed that tDCS significantly reduced the severity of auditory verbal hallucinations, with a mean reduction of 31%, and the improvement lasted for up to three months. Additionally, tDCS showed positive effects on other symptoms of schizophrenia, particularly negative and positive symptoms. Although the study had a small sample size, the findings suggest that tDCS has the potential to be a promising treatment for refractory auditory verbal hallucinations and certain manifestations of schizophrenia, in patients which had not been helped by pharmacology. 


Scientific articles on tDCS for auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia 

Brunelin J et al., Examining transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) as a treatment for hallucinations in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatr 2012 

Lefaucheur JP et al., Evidence-based guidelines on the therapeutic use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Clin Neurophysiol 2017 


The information on this page is general in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please speak with your doctor about your options for treatment.

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