Direct current brain polarization

Eric M. Wassermann

in Oxford Handbook of Transcranial Stimulation

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780198568926
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191744013 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Direct current brain polarization

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  • Neuropsychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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The transcranial application of weak direct current (DC) to the brain is an effective neuromodulation technique that has had more than a century of experimental and therapeutic use. Focal DC brain polarization is now undergoing renewed interest, because of the wide acceptance of TMS as a research tool and candidate treatment for brain disorders. The effects of static electrical fields on cortical neurons in vivo have been known since the advent of intracellular recording. These effects are highly selective for neurons oriented longitudinally in the plane of the electric field. DC can enhance cognitive processes occurring in the treated area. The earliest clinical application of DC polarization was in the field of mood disorders. However, due to lack of temporal and spatial resolution, this technique does not appear particularly useful for exploring neurophysiological mechanisms.

Keywords: transcranial application; neuromodulation technique; brain polarization; brain disorders; intracellular recording; DC polarization

Article.  3360 words. 

Subjects: Neuropsychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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