Differences in electric field strength between clinical and non-clinical populations induced by prefrontal tDCS: A cross-diagnostic, individual MRI-based modeling study

Yuki Mizutani-Tiebel, Shun Takahashi, Temmuz Karali, Eva Mezger, Lucia Bulubas, Irina Papazova, Esther Dechantsreiter, Sophia Stoecklein, Boris Papazov, Axel Thielscher, Frank Padberg, Daniel Keeser

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Prefrontal cortex (PFC) regions are promising targets for therapeutic applications of non-invasive brain stimulation, e.g. transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which has been proposed as a novel intervention for major depressive disorder (MDD) and negative symptoms of schizophrenia (SCZ). However, the effects of tDCS vary inter-individually, and dose-response relationships have not been established. Stimulation parameters are often tested in healthy subjects and transferred to clinical populations. The current study investigates the variability of individual MRI-based electric fields (e-fields) of standard bifrontal tDCS across individual subjects and diagnoses.

METHOD: The study included 74 subjects, i.e. 25 patients with MDD, 24 patients with SCZ, and 25 healthy controls (HC). Individual e-fields of a common tDCS protocol (i.e. 2 mA stimulation intensity, bifrontal anode-F3/cathode-F4 montage) were modeled by two investigators using SimNIBS (2.0.1) based on structural MRI scans.

RESULT: On a whole-brain level, the average e-field strength was significantly reduced in MDD and SCZ compared to HC, but MDD and SCZ did not differ significantly. Regions of interest (ROI) analysis for PFC subregions showed reduced e-fields in Sallet areas 8B and 9 for MDD and SCZ compared to HC, whereas there was again no difference between MDD and SCZ. Within groups, we generally observed high inter-individual variability of e-field intensities at a higher percentile of voxels.

CONCLUSION: MRI-based e-field modeling revealed significant differences in e-field strengths between clinical and non-clinical populations in addition to a general inter-individual variability. These findings support the notion that dose-response relationships for tDCS cannot be simply transferred from healthy to clinical cohorts and need to be individually established for clinical groups. In this respect, MRI-based e-field modeling may serve as a proxy for individualized dosing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103011
JournalNeuroImage. Clinical
Volume34
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
ISSN2213-1582
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Brain
  • Depressive Disorder, Major/therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Prefrontal Cortex/diagnostic imaging
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation/methods
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Prefrontal tDCS
  • Electric field
  • Schizophrenia
  • Structural MRI
  • Major depressive disorder

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