According to the team’s computational models, tDCS delivers a therapeutic current along the brain’s pain network, a collection of interconnected brain regions involved in perceiving and regulating pain. The team says the technology seems to reverse ingrained changes in the brain caused by chronic migraine, such as greater sensitivity to headache triggers.
The improvements accumulated over the four weeks of treatment, with the effects lasting for months. The only side effect reported by the test subjects was a mild tingling sensation experienced when receiving the treatment. Professor Bikson says a patient could potentially use the system every day to ward off attacks, or periodically, like a booster shot.
“You can walk around with it and keep it in your desk drawer or purse. This is definitely the first technology that operates on just a 9-volt battery and can be applied at home,” said Bikson, who envisions the future development of units as small as an iPod.