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tDCS featured in The New Yorker Magazine

Latest News

  1. tDCS produces long-term improvement for post-stroke aphasia James Fugedy 21-Nov-2014
  2. Long-term benefit of tDCS for aphasia James Fugedy 16-Nov-2014
  3. tDCS improves balance and gait for children with cerebral palsy James Fugedy 14-Nov-2014
  4. tDCS reduces memory loss in older adults James Fugedy 13-Nov-2014

tDCS for Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a range of complex neurodevelopmental symptoms with onset in infancy and characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, stereotyped patterns of behavior. 

There is no cure for this chronic and highly disabling condition. Conventional therapies and behavioral interventions can bring about substantial improvement, but new and more effective treatment options are urgently needed. 

Over the last decade, brain stimulation techniques have shown promising and encouraging outcomes for the treatment of resistant psychiatric disorders. Studies at the University of Louisville, utilizing repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) demonstrate the ability to partially reverse the neuro-cognitive deficits and the neuro-physiological abnormalities of autistic patients. The drawbacks of rTMS include limited availability and high cost.  

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), the newest of the neuromodulation techniques, uses a weak, direct electrical current to provide effects similar to the rTMS. tDCS is non-invasive, painless and is done with a portable stimulator and sponge electrodes positioned over the targeted cortical brain areas. tDCS is safer, easier to do, more comfortable, much more affordable than rTMS and it can be administered at home with training and supervison provided by the Brain Stimulation Clinic. 

Studies demonstrate that tDCS decreases scores on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist and increases scores on the Children’s Global Assessment Scale. In addition, tDCS reduces Autism Behavior Checklist subscales for social withdrawal, hyperactivity and irritability. These most frequently account for poor adherence of ASD patients to rehabilitation programs. tDCS also improves language acquisition and suppresses seizure activity, an important consideration as it is estimated that up to 30% of individuals with autism have epilepsy.

Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (t-VNS) is another new procedure which benefits autism. The new, non-invasive t-VNS devices demonstrate the ability to relieve anxiety, reduce the sympathetic stress response and produce a sense of well-being which facilitates participation in conventional therapies, resulting in improved outcomes. 

 tVNS and tDCS can be used independently or in combination. There are no adverse or side effects associated with either tDCS or t-VNS.