Research Summary

Neurobiological correlates of the Effect of Add-On HD-tDCS for Working Memory Deficit in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic debilitating disorder with working memory (WM) deficit as one of the core cognitive deficits leading to functional impairment. WM deficits are also associated with reduced left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activation. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a novel non-invasive focal brain stimulation technique using a low intensity direct current has shown to improve cognitive deficits especially WM deficits in schizophrenia. Brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) has found to have correlation with cognitive deficits and influencing tDCS modulated neuroplasticity. High definition tDCS (HD- tDCS) is found to have more focalized neuro-modulation and potentially greater benefits.

In this background, the current study proposes to explore potential benefits of HD- tDCS for WM deficits in schizophrenia patients with the following objectives: a) To evaluate the neurobiological correlates of the effect of add-on HD-tDCS in schizophrenia patients with deficient working memory; b) To examine the neurobiological correlates (functional MRI activation as well as BDNF gene variation and expression) of WM deficit in schizophrenia.

The potential translational implications of the study include: Understanding neurobiology of WM deficits in schizophrenia; Novel neurobiological correlates of clinical response to HD-tDCS in schizophrenia patients with WM deficits; Development of personalized neuromodulation for treating schizophrenia in future.