Neuromodulation for Neuropsychiatric Disorders: Novel Techniques -Vagus Nerve Stimulation, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, and Deep Brain Stimulation

  • Russell J. AndrewsEmail author


The last two decades have seen the development of several neuromodulation techniques that have been applied to the problem of severe, medication-refractory depression – notably vagus nerve stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation, and deep brain stimulation. The four techniques are here reviewed from the standpoint of the hardware involved, the techniques of application, the biological effects of the stimulation on the brain (with an emphasis on neuroprotection), and the results obtained in neuropsychiatric disorders to date. Vagus nerve stimulation involves stimulation of the vagus nerve in the cervical region via an electrode encircling the nerve, with that stimulation resulting in effects on many regions in the brain. Transcranial magnetic stimulation uses a focused magnetic field to induce, through the intact skull, electrical stimulation in a specific region of the brain. Transcranial direct current stimulation induces a small current in a portion of the brain, also through the intact skull, via cathode and anode electrodes placed on the scalp. Deep brain stimulation employs a small number of electrodes (usually two – one for each hemisphere) placed through hole(s) in the skull into a specific brain nucleus; the effect of deep brain stimulation as it is presently performed is to reversibly ablate the function of that nucleus or region. Given the rapid developments in the neural-electrical interface, anticipated future developments in deep brain stimulation are considered as well.


Deep brain stimulation Depression Mood disorders Neural-electrical interface Neuromodulation Obsessive-compulsive disorder Transcranial direct current stimulation Transcranial magnetic stimulation Vagus nerve stimulation 



adrenocorticotrphic hormone


brain derived neurotrophic factor


carbon nanotube


cerebral blood flow

CE Mark

certification that a product meets the health and safety requirements of the 27 countries of the European Union plus 4 additional countries included in the European Economic Area


deep brain stimulation


diffusion tensor imaging


electroconvulsive therapy




functional magnetic resonance imaging


Food and Drug Administration (USA)


Hamilton Depression Rating Scale


Hertz (cycles per second)


long term potentiation


multi-electrode array




messenger ribonucleic acid


magnetic resonance imaging


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA)




neural-electrical interface


nerve growth factor


nucleus of the tractus solitarius


obsessive-compulsive disorder


pheochromocytoma 12


positron emission tomography


repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation


subcallosal cingulate


scanning electron micrograph


subthalamic nucleus


theta burst suppresion


transcranial direct current stimulation


transcranial magnetic stimulation


treatment resistant depression


Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale


vagus nerve stimulation


Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ames Associate (Smart Systems and Nanotechnology) NASA Ames Research CenterMoffett FieldUSA

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