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Background:

Depression is accompanied by cognitive control defects. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been found to be a promising non-invasive treatment for depression. Studies have explored whether tDCS can improve cognitive function in patients with depression, but the results were not consistent.

Methods:

The study summarized the relevant evidence from sham-controlled randomized controlled trials (RCTs) whether prefrontal tDCS improves cognitive function in patients with depression.

Results:

Seventeen sham-controlled studies were selected from 252 papers. Systematic analysis shows that the prefrontal tDCS has a promising prospect in the working memory and emotion process of depression patients; however, there is insufficient evidence to support the reliable influence of tDCS on psychomotor speed, learning, speech process, and overall cognitive function.

Conclusions:

Our review shows that the prefrontal tDCS has positive effects on working memory and emotion processes, but has limited impact on other cognitive functions.


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The cognitive function effects of prefrontal tDCS for depression: a system review

Show Author's information Xiaoli Liu1,2,§Chang Yu2,§Hai-Hang Yu1,2Zan Chen1Dongsheng Zhou1,2( )
Sleep Clinic Center, Ningbo Kangning Hospital, Ningbo 315201, China
Ningbo Key laboratory of Sleep Medicine, Ningbo Kangning Hospital, Ningbo 315201, China

§ Xiaoli Liu and Chang Yu Contributed equally to this work.

Abstract

Background:

Depression is accompanied by cognitive control defects. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been found to be a promising non-invasive treatment for depression. Studies have explored whether tDCS can improve cognitive function in patients with depression, but the results were not consistent.

Methods:

The study summarized the relevant evidence from sham-controlled randomized controlled trials (RCTs) whether prefrontal tDCS improves cognitive function in patients with depression.

Results:

Seventeen sham-controlled studies were selected from 252 papers. Systematic analysis shows that the prefrontal tDCS has a promising prospect in the working memory and emotion process of depression patients; however, there is insufficient evidence to support the reliable influence of tDCS on psychomotor speed, learning, speech process, and overall cognitive function.

Conclusions:

Our review shows that the prefrontal tDCS has positive effects on working memory and emotion processes, but has limited impact on other cognitive functions.

Keywords:

cognitive function, depression, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), prefrontal cortex
Received: 27 March 2020 Revised: 01 July 2020 Accepted: 25 August 2021 Published: 17 December 2021 Issue date: December 2021
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Publication history
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Acknowledgements
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Publication history

Received: 27 March 2020
Revised: 01 July 2020
Accepted: 25 August 2021
Published: 17 December 2021
Issue date: December 2021

Copyright

© The Author(s) 2021

Acknowledgements

The authors thank their departments for supports. The study was supported by the Medical Science and Technology Project in Ningbo (No. 2017A10), the Pharmaceu-tical Science and Technology Project in Zhejiang Province, China (No. 2019RC079), the Medical Science and Technology Project in Ningbo (No. 2019Y23), and the Zhejiang Medical Health Science and Technology Plan Project (No. 2021KY331).

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