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A description and critical analysis of the therapeutic uses of transcranial direct current stimulation: implications for clinical practice and research

Authors Vance DE, Fazeli P, Cody S, Bell T, Pope C

Received 23 June 2016

Accepted for publication 1 August 2016

Published 14 September 2016 Volume 2016:6 Pages 23—31


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Cindy Hudson

David E Vance,1 Pariya L Fazeli,1 Shameka L Cody,1 Tyler R Bell,2 Caitlin Northcutt Pope,3

Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care, School of Nursing, 2Lifespan Developmental Psychology Program, 3Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

Abstract: For centuries, since the advent of harnessing magnetic and electrical energies, humans have been applying such energies to various body parts, including the brain, with the goal of improving health. Advancements over the past 2 decades in the production and affordability of such devices that precisely deliver such energies have resulted in novel therapeutic uses. One technique in particular, transcranial direct current stimulation, uses electrodes placed on the scalp to deliver a low electrical current to various areas on the surface of the neocortex. Such electrical currents stimulate neurons, which depending on the area of the neocortex it is applied and certain stimulation parameters, can either excite or inhibit certain functions within the brain that may result in alterations in mood, cognition, and behavior. This article provides an overview of this approach, explains how it is used, describes the hypothesized neurobiomechanisms involved, and explores its therapeutic potential. From this overview, implications for nursing practice and innovative uses for nursing research are posited.

Keywords: tDCS, mood, cognition, electrical stimulation, cognitive training, depression

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