Single transcranial direct current stimulation in schizophrenia: Randomized, cross-over study of neurocognition, social cognition, ERPs, and side effects

Academic Article


  • Over the last decades, the treatment of schizophrenia has shifted fundamentally from a focus on symptom reduction to a focus on recovery and improving aspects of functioning. In this study, we examined the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on social cognitive and nonsocial neurocognitive functions, as well as on electroencephalogram (EEG) measures, in individuals with schizophrenia. Thirty-seven individuals with schizophrenia were administered one of three different tDCS conditions (cathodal, anodal, and sham) per visit over the course of three visits, with approximately one week between each visit. Order of conditions was randomized and counterbalanced across subjects. For the active conditions, the electrode was placed over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with the reference electrode over right supraorbital cortex. Current intensity was 2 mA and was maintained for two 20-minute sessions, with a one hour break between the sessions. Assessments were conducted immediately following each session, in a counterbalanced order of administration. No systematic effects were found across the social and nonsocial cognitive domains, and no significant effects were detected on event-related potentials (ERPs). The very small effect sizes, further validated by post-hoc power analyses (large Critical Ns), demonstrated that these findings were not due to lack of statistical power. Except for mild local discomfort, no significant side effects were reported. Findings demonstrate the safety and ease of administration of this procedure, but suggest that a single dose of tDCS over these areas does not yield a therapeutic effect on cognition in schizophrenia.
  • Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rassovsky Y; Dunn W; Wynn JK; Wu AD; Iacoboni M; Hellemann G; Green MF
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 5