Effects of Brain Stimulation on Cognition, Oscillations and GABA Levels in Schizophrenia

  • End date
    Aug 31, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of California, Davis
Updated on 11 August 2022
transcranial direct current stimulation
schizoaffective disorder
Accepts healthy volunteers


People with schizophrenia often have problems with attention, learning and memory and other cognitive abilities that interfere with their work and school performance. Unfortunately, even our best treatments often do not significantly reduce these cognitive problems. The current study investigates whether or not delivering a very small electrical current to people's foreheads (called, transcranial direct current stimulation; (tDCS)) might improve functioning in the front part of the brain and reduce these cognitive problems in people with schizophrenia. tDCS is non-invasive and has been shown to improve cognitive functioning in some preliminary studies. The current study will investigate whether giving tDCS during a task is more effective than giving it during rest (Aim 1), whether delivery of tDCS to the front of the head is more effective than delivery to the back of the head (Aim 2), and whether tDCS delivery will alter levels of a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain (GABA; Aim 3) that is important to cognitive functioning and may be disrupted in people with schizophrenia. Although this study is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat schizophrenia or any other disease, if results are positive it will encourage future large-scale studies to determine if tDCS can become an effective treatment for cognitive problems in people with schizophrenia.

Condition Schizophrenia
Treatment Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04267003
SponsorUniversity of California, Davis
Last Modified on11 August 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Participants must be able to sufficiently speak and understand English so as to be able to understand and complete cognitive tasks
All subjects must have the ability to give valid informed consent
Inclusion Criteria for Patients with Schizophrenia Only
Diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizophreniform or schizoaffective disorder
No medication changes in the prior month
No medication changes anticipated in the upcoming month
Stable outpatient or partial hospital status
Normal IQ (>70; IQ will be measured by administering the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of
Intelligence (WASI) test)
Must not be currently taking the antipsychotic clozapine

Exclusion Criteria

Implanted electrical (brain and spinal) stimulators
Implanted defibrillator
Metallic implants
Skin damage or skin conditions such as eczema at the sites where electrodes will be placed
Hair styles hindering the placement of electrodes
Cranial pathologies
Head trauma
Mental retardation
Any known history of neurological disorders (including epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, cerebral palsy, any DSM-5 axis I psychiatric disorder (for healthy control subjects), autism)
Uncorrected vision problems that would hinder cognitive testing (this also pertains to subjects with color blindness in tasks where discriminating colored objects/items is necessary for successful performance)
Substance dependence in the past six months
Substance abuse in the past month
Clear my responses

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Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

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If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

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Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

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