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The effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) combined with cognitive training on EEG spectral power in adolescent boys with ADHD: A double-blind, randomized, sham-controlled trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Samuel J. Westwood, Natali Bozhilova, Marion Criaud, Sheut Ling Lam, Steve Lukito, Sophie Wallace-Hanlon, Olivia S. Kowalczyk, Afroditi Kostara, Joseph Mathew, Bruce E. Wexler, Roi Cohen Kadosh, Philip Asherson, Katya Rubia

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalIBRO Neuroscience Reports
Early online date24 Dec 2021
Accepted/In press19 Dec 2021
E-pub ahead of print24 Dec 2021
PublishedJun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was supported by grants from Action Medical Research ( GN2426 ), the Garfield Weston Foundation , and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Center at South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust , and King's College London to KR. KR has received additional research support for other projects from the Medical Research Council ( MR/P012647/1 ), and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Center at South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and King's College London. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. The funders were not involved in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors

King's Authors


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a possible alternative to psychostimulants in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but its mechanisms of action in children and adolescents with ADHD are poorly understood. We conducted the first 15-session, sham-controlled study of anodal tDCS over right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) combined with cognitive training (CT) in 50 children/adolescents with ADHD. We investigated the mechanisms of action on resting and Go/No-Go Task-based QEEG measures in a subgroup of 23 participants with ADHD (n, sham = 10; anodal tDCS = 13). We failed to find a significant sham versus anodal tDCS group differences in QEEG spectral power during rest and Go/No-Go Task performance, a correlation between QEEG and Go/No-Go Task performance, and changes in clinical and cognitive measures. These findings extend the non-significant clinical and cognitive effects in our sample of 50 children/adolescents with ADHD. Given that the subgroup of 23 participants would have been underpowered, the interpretation of our findings is limited and should be used as a foundation for future investigations. Larger, adequately powered randomized controlled trials should explore different protocols titrated to the individual and using comprehensive measures to assess cognitive, clinical, and neural effects of tDCS and its underlying mechanisms of action in ADHD.

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