Transcranial direct current stimulation for hyperactivity and noncompliance in autistic disorder

Giordano D'Urso, Dario Bruzzese, Roberta Ferrucci, Alberto Priori, Antonio Pascotto, Silvana Galderisi, Alfredo Carlo Altamura, Carmela Bravaccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. To evaluate the safety, efficacy, and feasibility of inhibitory transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for the treatment of behavioural abnormalities of autistic patients. Methods. Twelve young adult patients with autistic disorder were enrolled. All subjects presented intellectual disability and most of them had speech impairment. The Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) was administered as the primary outcome measure before and after a 2-week tDCS course. All subjects received 10 daily applications of 20 min/1.5 mA/cathodal (inhibitory) tDCS over the left dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex. Results. Eight out of 10 study completers improved in their abnormal behaviours, reaching an average reduction of 26.7% of the total ABC score. The remaining two patients showed no changes. In the whole group of completers, among the five subscales contributing to the significant reduction of the total score, the most remarkable and statistically significant change was seen in the subscale assessing hyperactivity and non-compliance (-35.9%, P = 0.002). No adverse effects were reported. Conclusions. Inhibitory tDCS improved the ABC rating scores for autistic behaviours. Owing to its ease of use, cost-effectiveness and the limited availability of specific treatment strategies, tDCS might be a valid therapeutic option to be tested in autistic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Journal of Biological Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Autism
  • Intellectual disability
  • Pervasive developmental disorders
  • TDCS
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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