[Abstract] Combined transcranial direct current stimulation with virtual reality exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder: Feasibility and pilot results

Abstract

Background

Facilitating neural activity using non-invasive brain stimulation may improve extinction-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Objective/hypothesis

Here, we examined the feasibility of simultaneous transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) application during virtual reality (VR) to reduce psychophysiological arousal and symptoms in Veterans with PTSD.

Methods

Twelve Veterans with PTSD received six combat-related VR exposure sessions during sham-controlled tDCS targeting ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Primary outcome measures were changes in skin conductance-based arousal and self-reported PTSD symptom severity.

Results

tDCS + VR components were combined without technical difficulty. We observed a significant interaction between reduction in arousal across sessions and tDCS group (p = .03), indicating that the decrease in physiological arousal was greater in the tDCS + VR versus sham group. We additionally observed a clinically meaningful reduction in PTSD symptom severity.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates feasibility of applying tDCS during VR. Preliminary data suggest a reduction in psychophysiological arousal and PTSD symptomatology, supporting future studies.

via Combined transcranial direct current stimulation with virtual reality exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder: Feasibility and pilot results – Brain Stimulation: Basic, Translational, and Clinical Research in Neuromodulation

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