Today, the study of the brain and its functions is progressing more and more thanks to neuroimaging techniques and brain stimulation and modulation. Disorders, due to degenerative or traumatic processes, strokes and neuropsychological processes, are now on the agenda especially due to the ageing of the population. Not only pharmacology but psychotherapy has proven capable of producing changes in the brain’s function. Understanding how this works and how to improve it is an important goal for interventions ranging from prevention to rehabilitation of specific and functional deficits. The tDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) is an important resource in this process, given its modulation capability of cortical excitability with the absence of side effects.

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The tDCS and its mechanisms

The tDCS, initially born in Italy and now used throughout the world, is a technique in which it is possible to stimulate different parts of the brain in a non-invasive, effective, painless way, and with no side effects. Although it is a relatively “new” technique, many studies indicate it is a valuable tool for the treatment of pathological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, addictions, post-stroke rehabilitation, traumas, depression, anxiety and in applications in Sports Medicine. Stimulation with tDCS consists of a weak continuous electrical current of 1-2 mA, not perceptible by the subject, which is applied to the scalp via a couple of electrodes.

The electrodes (one excitatory, the anode, and another inhibitor), the cathode on a 35 cm² surface are coated with a synthetic sponge soaked in a saline solution to increase conductivity (allowing to cross the cranial bone and reach the cerebral area of interest) and avoid possible annoying effects caused by direct current application.
At this point they are inserted within a rubber cap (non-conductive) that makes it easier to fit over the head. Generally, a mounting is used where the active electrode is positioned on the area to be stimulated while the reference electrode is positioned on the elliptic orbital area or in a non-cephalic area (e.g. on the shoulder).


With the current from one electrode to the others, this technique modifies the neuron membrane potential by modulating the excitability of the cerebral cortex and hence the neuronal activity of a given part of the brain, by increasing or decreasing the functionality of the stimulated area (producing cognitive, behavioural and motor effects) for a period of time that persists beyond the duration of the stimulation. In particular, the anode stimulation depolarizes neurons by increasing the cortical excitability of the stimulated area, while cathode stimulation hyper-polarizes neurons with inhibitory effects. If the stimulation is repeated several times it is possible to make these changes more stable and long lasting (Bolognini et al. 2009).

Tdcs Effects

The effects of tDCS vary on the variation of:
– Current density (ratio between current intensity and electrode size)
– Direction of current flow (from cathode to anode or anode to cathode)
– Duration of stimulation
– Neuronal geometry on which the stimulation works
– Characteristics of the stimulated neuronal tissue.

The modifications produced become more stable and long lasting (long-term effects) when the stimulation is repeated many times (Bolognini et al. 2009). The mechanisms underlying this stabilization of the effects could include the formation of new synapses by exploiting the long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) mechanisms. The glutamate system and the NMDA receptors seem to play an important role for these processes.

Currently, both at institutional research laboratories and at Institutes of the CIDIMU Group, the Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation technique is used for the following applications:

– Cognitive Rehabilitation
– Rehabilitation of motor impaired patients
– Rehabilitation of other nature and in athletes

The IRR Institute observes the following hours: from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 20:00 Saturday from 8:00 to 13:00

Corso Francia 104/3, Torino

Phone: 0113999222

Contact us

The IRR Institute observes the following hours: from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 20:00 Saturday from 8:00 to 13:00

Corso Francia 104/3, Torino

Phone: 0113999222

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