Efficacy of fronto-temporal transcranial direct current stimulation for refractory auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia: A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study

Anushree Bose, Venkataram Shivakumar, Sri Mahavir Agarwal, Sunil V. Kalmady, Sonia Shenoy, Vanteemar S. Sreeraj, Janardhanan C. Narayanaswamy, Ganesan Venkatasubramanian

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Persistent auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) that are refractory to antipsychotic medications are reported in about 20-30% of schizophrenia patients. Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive and safe neuromodulatory technique, has attracted significant interest as an add-on treatment for refractory AVH in schizophrenia. Studies examining the efficacy of tDCS for refractory AVH in schizophrenia have reported inconsistent findings. In this study, using a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled design (RCT), we sought to examine the effect of add-on tDCS [anode corresponding to left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cathode to left temporo-parietal junction; 2-mA, twice-daily sessions for 5-days] to treat refractory AVH in schizophrenia patients (N = 25); following this RCT phase, patients that had <. 30% reduction in AVH severity were offered an open-label extension (OLE) active stimulation to evaluate the effect of cross-over to verum tDCS. In the RCT phase, repeated measures ANOVA with tDCS type [verum (N = 12) vs. sham (N = 13)] as between subjects factor demonstrated a significant tDCS-type X time-point interaction [F = 21.5, p. <. 0.001, partial-η2 = 0.48] with significantly greater reduction of AVH score in verum tDCS group as compared to sham group. In the OLE phase, sham-to-verum crossed over patients (N = 13) showed significantly greater reduction in AVH severity than their corresponding change during RCT phase (t = 2.9; p = 0.01). Together, these observations add further support to the beneficial effects of add-on tDCS to treat refractory AVH schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - 01-01-2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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