A perfect match: noninvasive brain stimulation and psychotherapy

  • Malek BajboujEmail author
  • Frank Padberg


One out of four patients with a psychiatric disorder does not tolerate or sufficiently respond to standard treatments, leading to impaired quality of life, significant morbidity and mortality, as well as high socioeconomic costs. There is increasing evidence that—apart from psychopharmacologic and psychotherapeutic interventions—targeted modulation of neural networks by brain stimulation techniques might serve as a third treatment modality. In the whole spectrum of treatment modalities, combined approaches are often used for difficult-to-treat patients. They may be superior strategies compared to monotherapy and could possible also include brain stimulation interventions. However, systematic research is lacking for the latter issue. Particularly, noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS), e.g., transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can be easily combined with psychotherapy approaches. Here, we introduce NIBS techniques for priming and augmenting psychotherapy, review preliminary data and propose a future research strategy. Interestingly, this strategy parallels the promising development in neurology and neurorehabilitation where tDCS is currently combined with functional training tasks to enhance motor or cognitive performance.


Non-invasive brain stimulation Cognitive-behavioral therapy Depression Transcranial magnetic stimulation Transcranial direct current stimulation 


Conflict of interest

Malek Bajbouj has received fundings from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft as well as unrestricted grants from Medtronic and Tonica. Frank Padberg has received grants and research support from Brainsway Inc., Israel, and NeuroConn GmbH, Ilmenau, Germany.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Center for Affective Sciences (CAS)Charité and Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyLudwig-Maximilian University MunichMunichGermany

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