Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) Therapy

What is Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) Therapy?

Known as a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, Transactional Electric Stimulation (TES) is the umbrella term for different forms of neuromodulation, all of which are non-invasive.

NCBI.gov explains that Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) is a therapy which passes an electrical current through the cortex of the brain to alter brain function.

This electrical current is usually applied to a person’s scalp with two or more electrodes. Whilst a large amount of the current is conducted through soft tissue and skull, a portion of the current penetrates the scalp, conducted through the brain; this is where it can alter neuronal excitability.

There are many ways in which Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) can be used, from enhancing gains in motor function to treating depression and other psychological disorders.

Science Direct explain that the use of electricity for therapeutic purposes was first used almost 2000 years ago. There have been many advancements in these techniques, all with various levels of success. Clinical trials continue to go ahead as they have done over the past approx.

15 years to evaluate the effectiveness of Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) on conditions such as depression, stroke, and neuropathic pain.

There is growing evidence that suggests a form of Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) known as tDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) can augment brain activity in a manner that provides therapeutic relief of major symptoms, reduces cognitive performance declines, and generally improves mood.

If these studies continue to show positive results, this form of therapy will help to support fatigue and attention disorders which are so prevalent in modern society today.

 

What are the different Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) Therapy Treatment Options?

There are various Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) approaches, one of these is Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation also known as tDCS.

This involves the application of a continuous constant low level of direct current, the aim of tDCS is to create small but significant changes in the firing rates of large numbers of neurons which leads to changes in behaviour and brain function.

Another Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) approach is Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation also known as tACS. This is similar to tDCS as it applies similarly low amounts of current but can be delivered in alternating specific frequencies.

Both of these Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) approaches can be used to influence brain activity and related behaviours whilst avoiding any serious adverse heath effects. This is achieved by delivering much weaker currents in tACS and tDCS than those administered in electroconvulsive therapy, also known as ECT.

However, anyone who’s considering receiving these treatments should undergo applicable screening prior to the sessions to ensure there’s no medical conditions which may exclude them from taking part.

The various methods and techniques of Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) Therapy are promising tools to help individuals with developmental learning disabilities and behavioural disorders.

These therapies can sometimes be seen as controversial as to whether interventions aimed at enhancing function in the absence of disease or disorder are acceptable or not.

Science Direct explains that there are five common objections to the use of cognitive enhancements, these are safety, authenticity, social justice, positional goods objections, and cheating.

Whilst these are of course considered, it’s widely believed that Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) Therapy is not seriously troubled by any of these objections.

 

What is Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)?

Neuromodec describes Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) as a portable, wearable brain stimulation technique that delivers a low electric current to the scalp.

It works by applying a positive (anodal) or negative (cathodal) current via electrodes to a specific area with the aim to produce immediate and long-lasting changes in brain function. The position of the anode and cathode electrodes is moved to certain areas on the head to set how the current flows to specific regions of the brain.

The Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) devices look like small battery powered devices with a control panel which is used to program the device to set the duration and intensity of the stimulation.

The electrodes are placed on your head and held in place with an elastic strap on headgear. The stimulator should have various features which help to ensure that stimulation is tolerable and reliable, such as an impedance metre and a current metre.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is used to boost activity in the brain, the current isn’t strong enough to trigger an action potential in a neuron, instead it changes the pattern of neurons which are already active.

It’s reported that this treatment can feel like an itching, prickling, or a mild tingling which are not painful and quickly go away once the stimulation ends.

Neuromodec go on to explain that Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is being explored as an option to help treat addiction, chronic pain, depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and motor rehabilitation, in addition to non-medical wellness applications such as focus, meditation, relaxation, and accelerated learning.

 

What is Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS)?

Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) is another variant of Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TES) which is most similar to Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).

It’s also a non-invasive brain stimulation technique which uses electrical currents to modulate brain activity and change behaviour (Science Direct).

However, instead of using a fixed frequency and amplitude, the pulses in tACS are delivered across several frequencies and amplitudes across a certain range of the spectrum.

 

What is Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (tRNS)?

Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (tRNS) is a modification of Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) which generates alternating current following a white noise structure; tRNS has a higher perception threshold than tDCS.

Science Direct explain that studies suggest Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (tRNS) modulates perception, learning, memory, and other cognitive functions.

It’s previously been used to help tinnitus, myopia, depression, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease, suggesting it’s a promising new modality for treating functional brain disorders.

 

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326965/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128053539001376

https://neuromodec.com/what-is-transcranial-direct-current-stimulation-tdcs/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/transcranial-alternating-current-stimulation

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124047044000181

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/transcranial-random-noise-stimulation