The Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Patients with Autism: a Pilot Study

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Anuwat Amatachaya
Niramol Patjanasoontorn
Narong Auvichayapat
Chanyut Suphakunpinyo
Suparerk Janjarasjitt
Woraphon Thuleechan
Wichunan Chueajaroen
Niran Ngernyam
Benchaporn Aree-uea
Paradee Auvichayapat


Background and objectives: The abnormal synaptic maturation and connectivity is one of the possible etiologies of autism. There is still no evidence about the effect of tDCS on autism severity and autistic brain wave. Therefore, we aimed to study autism severity and brainwave after tDCS treatment.

Methods: Eight male autistic patients received 1 mA, 20 minutes anodal tDCS over the F3. Evaluation was performed by Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and alpha peak frequency (8-13 Hz) analysis.

Results: Decreased ATEC score was found in social subscale on seven days post-treatment (p = 0.027), in health and behavioral problem subscale on 24 hours (p = 0.035) and seven days post-treatment (p = 0.021) and total ATEC score on 24 hours post-treatment (p = 0.025). There was a statistically significant increase in alpha peak frequency under the F3 (p = 0.025) while there was a trend to have decreased CARS (p=0.056) at immediately post-treatment.  In addition, decreased CARS was correlated with alpha peak frequency at 24 hours post-treatment (r = 0.734, p = 0.038).

Conclusion: tDCS may be a useful clinical tool in autism. We propose that the better concentration caused by the increment of alpha peak frequency result in tendency of autistic clinical improvement.

Key words: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, Electroencephalogram, EEG spectral analysis, autism, Childhood Autism Rating Scale


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