Women report more severe sensations from tDCS than men.

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Women report more severe sensations from 2 mA and 4 mA transcranial direct current stimulation than men.

Interest in transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to alter cortical excitability, facilitate neural plasticity, and improve performance is increasing. Subjects often report temporary stimulation-related sensations, which might distract from the task being performed or compromise blinding. tDCS is also prone to high outcome irregularity and one potential variability source is the biological sex of the subject. The purpose of this study was to re-analyze existing tolerability data to ascertain any sex differences in sensation severity and blinding guesses from tDCS at 2 mA and 4 mA. Each subject underwent tDCS at three randomly-ordered intensities (sham, 2 mA, 4 mA), reported the severity sensations of experienced, and guessed which tDCS condition they underwent (blinding). Women reported higher sensation severities than men from 2 mA and 4 mA tDCS and higher severities with increasing intensity (sham < 2 mA < 4 mA). Men reported similar severities in all stimulation conditions. Both sexes distinguished sham from 2 mA and 4 mA, and neither were able to discriminate between 2 mA from 4 mA. This study highlights differences in severity reports between women and men and adds to the growing body of literature indicating that current sham methodologies might be inadequate to maintain blinding.

PMID: 33259084 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Eur J Neurosci. 2020 Dec 01;:

Authors: Workman CD, Fietsam AC, Kamholz J, Rudroff T