transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
Learn more about tDCS, how it works in practice, and its application in mental health, pain management and other emerging areas.
Possible benefits of tDCS
- reduced pain intensity
- fewer pain episodes
- improved sleep
- higher performance
- improved mood
- improved quality of life
tDCS for Depression
In depression, imaging studies can show that the activity of neurons in the brain is uneven. The tDCS can be applied to compensate for this. After only a few sessions, an improvement in cognitive performance can be observed. Scientific studies have shown that an antidepressant effect can be achieved after 2 to 3 weeks. The tDCS can be used in a supportive way to a standard therapy.
tDCS for Addiction
The therapy of addictive disorders presents a special challenge. The cognitive control of the consumption of addictive substances and the craving for them is considered disturbed. Through stimulation with the help of tDCS, risk-taking and addiction susceptibility can be reduced, with the goal of reducing cravings.
tDCS for Pain
Treatment with tDCS can reduce pain perception in patients with conditions such as fibromyalgia, migraine, chronic, postoperative or neuropathic pain. Positive changes can occur after just a few applications, which persist after treatment.
tDCS for Cognitive Deficits
Many patients with neurological diseases suffer from cognitive performance impairments. The impairments can be so pronounced that patients are unable or only partially able to manage their daily lives independently. By combining tDCS with cognitive training, attention and memory performance can be improved more quickly and effectively.
tDCS for Motor Disorders
In the event of a stroke, the motor areas of one half of the brain may fail or be disturbed. The healthy brain hemisphere tries to compensate for these deficits by increased activity. Treatment with tDCS can increase the activity of the damaged half of the brain. The combination of tDCS with usual therapies, can allow more targeted and unilateral movements.
tDCS for Dysphagia
After a stroke, acute dysphagia occurs in about 50% of all patients and about 25% of all patients suffer from chronic dysphagia, affecting swallowing. Supporting swallowing therapy with additional tDCS treatment can lead to long-term success.
tDCS for Aphasia
After a stroke, a speech production or comprehension disorder, called aphasia, can occur. By applying tDCS over the damaged speech center, speech production can be improved. It is recommended to perform this treatment in combination with speech therapy.
Advantages of tDCS
Frequently Asked Questions about tDCS
In preparation, the therapist moistens two areas on the head with a saline solution and attaches the electrodes with rubber bands or with a hood. The hair on the head has no influence on the stimulation and does not need to be changed. A very weak current is then transmitted to the surface of the head during stimulation.
tDCS is a safe and well-tolerated method. As a rule, patients do not feel the current at all. Only occasionally, a tingling or slight burning sensation on the scalp is reported at the beginning of the treatment.
Several sessions lasting 20 to 30 minutes are recommended each week. The number of sessions varies from person to person and depends on the type and severity of the condition. At the beginning of the therapy, the therapist creates an individual treatment plan, which includes tDCS and accompanying therapy methods.
tDCS should only be administered by a trained medical professional. tDCS equipment cannot be sold to the general public, and can only be sold to medical institutions, private practice or research labs.
If you are interested in exploring this therapy to treat a medical condition speak to your doctor first.
Are you a clinician or researcher interested in using tDCS?
Learn more about the appropriate device for tDCS therapy in practice or research.
Professional training in tDCS is only available to medical professionals or researchers in the field of human sciences.
Are you a clinician or researcher interested in professional training in tDCS?
We offer a self-paced online introductory course as well as in-person hands-on workshops in our centers throughout the world. Visit neurocare academy to see tDCS courses and workshops.
 Felice AD, Daloli V, Masiero S, Manganotti P, Contralesional Cathodal tDCS versus dual-tDCS for decreasing upper limb spasticity in chronic stroke individuals: A clinical and neurophysiological study. 2016
 Fregni F et al., The Hypnotic Analgesia Suggestion Mitigated the Effect of the Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on the Descending Pain Modulatory System: A Proof of Concept Study. J Pain Res 2020
 Klauss J et al., Lack of effects of extended sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over dorsolateral prefrontalcortex on craving and relapses in crack-cocaine users. Front Pharmacol 2018
 Rocha S et al., The impact of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) combined with modified constraint-induced movement therapy (mCIMT) on upper limb function in chronic stroke: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Disabil Rehabil 2016