Patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) display distinctive neurophysiological characteristics associated with significant cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied to the frontal or temporoparietal lobes has demonstrated potential to reduce the severity of ASD-related symptoms. Recently, the cerebellum has been identified as a brain area involved in ASD pathophysiology. In this open-label pilot study, seven ASD patients aged between 9 and 13 years underwent 20 daily sessions of 20 min cathodal stimulation of the right cerebellar lobe. At the end of the treatment, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) scores showed a 25% mean reduction in global severity of symptoms, with a more pronounced reduction in the “social withdrawal and lethargy” (−35%), “hyperactivity and noncompliance” (−26%), and “irritability, agitation, and crying” (−25%) subscales. Minor and no improvement were observed in the “stereo-typic behavior” (−18%) and “inappropriate speech” (−0%) subscales, respectively. Improvements were not detected in the two patients who were taking psychotropic drugs during the study. Clinical response showed a symptom-specific time course. Quality of sleep and mood improved earlier than hyperactivity and social withdrawal. The treatment was generally accepted by patients and well tolerated. No serious adverse events were reported. Stimulation also appeared to markedly reduce the severity of tics in a patient with comorbid tic disorder and led to the disappearance of a frontal epileptogenic focus in another patient with a history of seizures. In conclusion, cerebellar tDCS is safe, feasible, and potentially effective in the treatment of ASD symptoms among children. Strategies to improve recruitment and retention are discussed.

Cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation in children with autism spectrum disorder: A pilot study on efficacy, feasibility, safety, and unexpected outcomes in tic disorder and epilepsy

D'urso G.;Toscano E.;Riccio M. P.;Ferrucci R.;Iasevoli F.;Bravaccio C.;de Bartolomeis A.
2021

Abstract

Patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) display distinctive neurophysiological characteristics associated with significant cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied to the frontal or temporoparietal lobes has demonstrated potential to reduce the severity of ASD-related symptoms. Recently, the cerebellum has been identified as a brain area involved in ASD pathophysiology. In this open-label pilot study, seven ASD patients aged between 9 and 13 years underwent 20 daily sessions of 20 min cathodal stimulation of the right cerebellar lobe. At the end of the treatment, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) scores showed a 25% mean reduction in global severity of symptoms, with a more pronounced reduction in the “social withdrawal and lethargy” (−35%), “hyperactivity and noncompliance” (−26%), and “irritability, agitation, and crying” (−25%) subscales. Minor and no improvement were observed in the “stereo-typic behavior” (−18%) and “inappropriate speech” (−0%) subscales, respectively. Improvements were not detected in the two patients who were taking psychotropic drugs during the study. Clinical response showed a symptom-specific time course. Quality of sleep and mood improved earlier than hyperactivity and social withdrawal. The treatment was generally accepted by patients and well tolerated. No serious adverse events were reported. Stimulation also appeared to markedly reduce the severity of tics in a patient with comorbid tic disorder and led to the disappearance of a frontal epileptogenic focus in another patient with a history of seizures. In conclusion, cerebellar tDCS is safe, feasible, and potentially effective in the treatment of ASD symptoms among children. Strategies to improve recruitment and retention are discussed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/868649
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