Cognitive effects of transcranial direct current stimulation treatment in patients with major depressive disorder: An individual patient data meta-analysis of randomised, sham-controlled trials

Donel M. Martin, Adriano Moffa, Stevan Nikolin, Djamila Bennabi, André R. Brunoni, William Flannery, Emmanuel Haffen, Shawn M. McClintock, Marina L. Moreno, Frank Padberg, Ulrich Palm, Colleen K. Loo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has emerged as a promising new treatment for major depression. While recent randomised, sham-controlled studies found tDCS to have antidepressant effects, it remains to be determined whether a tDCS treatment course may also enhance cognitive function independent of mood effects in depressed patients. This systematic review and individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis examined cognitive outcomes from randomised, sham-controlled trials of tDCS treatment for major depression. Seven randomised, sham-controlled trials (n = 478 participants, 260 in active and 218 in sham) of tDCS for major depression were included. Results showed no cognitive enhancement after active tDCS compared to sham for the 12 cognitive outcomes investigated. Active relative to sham tDCS treatment was associated with reduced performance gains on a measure of processing speed (β = −0.33, 95% CI −0.58; −0.08, p = 0.011). Active tDCS treatment for depression did not show cognitive benefits independent of mood effects. Rather, tDCS treatment relative to sham stimulation for major depression may instead be associated with a reduced practice effect for processing speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Volume90
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Bipolar
  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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