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Direct Current Brain Polarization of the Frontal Lobes

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: January 17, 2007
Last updated: June 30, 2017
Last verified: December 23, 2008

This study will explore what effects, if any, direct current (DC) brain polarization may produce on mental processes, such as attention, reaction time, working memory, speed of information processing and mood or emotional states. In DC brain polarization, a very weak electrical current is applied to the head. This technique has been used for many years on patients and healthy people with no known serious side effects. Studies have shown that DC polarization can temporarily improve people's ability to think of certain words. To determine if DC polarization can be used as a treatment for certain types of brain disorders, its possible effects on mood and other mental abilities must be determined.

Healthy normal volunteers over age 18 may be eligible for this study.

In each of three 1.5-hour sessions scheduled a day apart, participants complete the tasks listed below to determine the effects of polarization. For each session, electrodes are placed on the head, arm, and hand. One set of electrodes is for brain stimulation; the second set is used to measure the amount of skin moisture on the hand. The participants' tasks are to:

  • Push a button on a keyboard when they see a specific item.
  • Circle a number or make a mark on a line to indicate how much they feel a particular emotion or sensation at that time.
  • Answer questions about themselves, or their opinions on certain topics.
  • Look at several pictures and say how emotional they think they are.
  • Read about an imaginary situation and say what they would do in that situation.
  • Choose between decks of cards to try to win money.
  • Compare the angles of lines.
  • Identify smells, using a scratch and sniff test.
  • At the end of the session, say how they are feeling.

Participants are called by phone on the day after each session to see how they are feeling.

Condition Intervention Phase
Healthy Procedure: DC Polarization Phase 1

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Direct Current Brain Polarization of Bilateral Prefrontal Cortex

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Measure significant changes in psychomotor and cognitive function with the CalCAP battery or adverse changes in mood as measured by the Profile of Mood States.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Screen for other cognitive, emotional, and perceptual changes using standardized and validated neuropsychological tests.

Estimated Enrollment: 25
Study Start Date: January 11, 2007
Estimated Study Completion Date: December 23, 2008
Detailed Description:
Objective: The principal objective is to establish the safety and feasibility of bilateral direct current (DC) polarization of the frontal lobes, which may be a useful modality for treatment of frontal lobe cognitive or behavioral deficits. Our secondary objective is to gather preliminary data on whether DC can modulate cognitive and emotion-related functions of the frontal lobes in healthy individuals. Study population: 25 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 80 will be enrolled. Design: The study is a double-blind crossover study with three arms: anodal polarization, cathodal polarization, and sham treatment. Outcome Measures: The primary outcome measures are 1) cognitive function as measured with the CalCAP battery or 2) emotional state as measured with the Profile of Mood States. Secondary outcome measures include tests of emotion-based decision making and social cognition.

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Healthy volunteers over age 18. Pregnant women are eligible.


Presence of metal in the cranial cavity or any holes in the skull due to trauma or surgery.

Uncontrolled medical problems, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, airway disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease, or any other condition that poses a risk for the subject during participation.

Broken skin in the area of the electrodes.

Any history of a neurological or psychiatric disorder.

  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00424216

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  More Information

Publications: Identifier: NCT00424216     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 070066
Study First Received: January 17, 2007
Last Updated: June 30, 2017

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Brain Stimulation
Healthy Volunteer
HV processed this record on September 21, 2017