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There has been increased interest in the potential use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as treatment for multiple conditions including depression, pain, and cognitive impairment. However, few studies account for the possible influence of comorbid medications when conducting tDCS research. This literature review was conducted to examine what is currently known about the impact of medications on tDCS, provide recommendations for future research practices, and highlight areas where more research is needed. Key terms were searched in PubMed and Web of Science to identify studies that examine the impact of medication on tDCS effects in adults. Relevant papers' reference lists were also reviewed for thoroughness. Studies examined the effects of medication on 1 mA tDCS delivered to M1 (motor) and orbit/supraorbital (SO) area. All studies measured the effects of tDCS via MEP TMS paradigm. Results of the literature review suggest multiple classes of medications, including sodium and calcium channel blockers, and medications that influence various neurotransmitter systems (GABA, dopamine, serotonin, etc.) may all impact tDCS effects on tissue excitability. Research to date suggests multiple classes of medications may impact tDCS effects. These results highlight the importance of documenting medication use in research subjects and carefully considering what types of medications should be allowed into tDCS trials. Many questions still remain regarding the exact mechanisms of action for tDCS and how various parameters (medication dosages, tDCS stimulation intensity, etc.) may further impact the effects of medications on tDCS. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Molly E McLaren, Nicole R Nissim, Adam J Woods. The effects of medication use in transcranial direct current stimulation: A brief review. Brain stimulation. 2018 Jan - Feb;11(1):52-58

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PMID: 29066167

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