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No analgesic effect for anodal transcranial direct current stimulation on induced pain in healthy participants

Olson, Claire (2019) No analgesic effect for anodal transcranial direct current stimulation on induced pain in healthy participants. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Pain is protective, but when it becomes a chronic condition, such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), it has outlived its protective use and is now a burden on the sufferer. There are few effective treatments for CRPS. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a form of non-invasive brain stimulation, has demonstrated efficacy in reducing both chronic and induced pain when administered at the primary motor cortex (M1) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). This study investigated tDCS protocols that could be replicated in CRPS patients. Twenty healthy participants (10 male, 10 female; age M = 25.10, SD = 8.87) received anodal tDCS at 1mA intensity for 20 minutes at M1 only, DLPFC only, M1 + DLPFC simultaneously, or sham. The study was a within-subjects, double-blind study, with each participant receiving each form of tDCS in sessions separated by one week. Participants were asked to rate pain in response to electrical and pinprick stimulation. Results indicated no significant pain-relieving effect for anodal tDCS in comparison to sham. However, results were limited by low tDCS current intensity and individual differences in tDCS responsivity. TDCS shows promise as a non-invasive treatment for chronic pain; it is recommended that future research focus on clinical populations.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Supervisor(s): Vo, Lechi
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