tACS (Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation) of Brain Improves Symptoms of Major Depression, Restores Brain Waves in Clinical Study; New Approach Might Significantly Help Depressed Patients in Inexpensive, Non-Invasive Way, Lead Researcher Says

University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine researchers, led by Flavio Frohlich, Ph.D., are the first to use transcranial alternating current brain stimulation (tACS) to significantly reduce symptoms in people diagnosed with major depression. With a weak alternating electrical current sent through electrodes attached to the scalp, University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine researchers successfully targeted a naturally occurring electrical pattern in a specific part of the brain and markedly improved depression symptoms in about 70 percent of participants in a clinical study. The research, published online on March 5, 2019 in Translational Psychiatry, lays the groundwork for larger research studies to use a specific kind of electrical brain stimulation called transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to treat people diagnosed with major depression. The open-access article is titled “Double-blind, randomized pilot clinical trial targeting alpha oscillations with transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).” "We conducted a small study of 32 people because this sort of approach had never been done before," said senior author Flavio Frohlich, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Carolina Center for Neurostimulation. "Now that we've documented how this kind of tACS can reduce depression symptoms, we can fine-tune our approach to help many people in a relatively inexpensive, noninvasive way." Dr. Frohlich, who joined the UNC School of Medicine in 2011, is a leading pioneer in this field who also published the first clinical trials of tACS in schizophrenia and chronic pain.
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