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Determining the Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Tinnitus, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review

Labree, Bas; Hoare, Derek J.; Gascoyne, Lauren E.; Scutt, Polly; Del Giovane, Cinzia; Sereda, Magdalena

Determining the Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Tinnitus, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review Thumbnail


Bas Labree

Associate Professor in Hearing Sciences

Polly Scutt

Cinzia Del Giovane


Background: Tinnitus is the awareness of a sound in the absence of an external source. It affects around 10–15% of people, a significant proportion of whom also experience symptoms such as depression or anxiety that negatively affect their quality of life. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a technique involving constant low-intensity direct current delivered via scalp electrodes. It is a potential treatment option for tinnitus, as well as tinnitus-related conditions such as depression and anxiety. This systematic review estimates the effects of tDCS on outcomes relevant to tinnitus. In addition, it sheds light on the relationship between stimulation parameters and the effect of tDCS on these outcomes; (2) Methods: Exhaustive searches of electronic databases were conducted. Randomised controlled trials were included if they reported at least one of the following outcomes: tinnitus symptom severity, anxiety, or depression. Where available, data on quality of life, adverse effects, and neurophysiological changes were also reviewed. GRADE was used to assess the certainty in the estimate; (3) Results: Meta-analyses revealed a statistically significant reduction in tinnitus (moderate certainty) and depression (low certainty)-but not anxiety-following active tDCS compared to sham control. Network meta-analyses revealed potential optimal stimulation parameters; (4) Conclusions: The evidence synthesised in this review suggests tDCS has the potential to reduce symptom severity in tinnitus and depression. It further narrows down the number of potentially optimal stimulation parameters.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 8, 2022
Publication Date Apr 8, 2022
Deposit Date May 24, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 7, 2022
Journal Brain Sciences
Electronic ISSN 2076-3425
Publisher MDPI AG
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 4
Article Number 484
Keywords General Neuroscience
Public URL
Publisher URL


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