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Project: A phase-I bilateral project using a sham-controlled, factorial design of transcranial direct current stimulation and theta-burst stimulation to investigate the effects on multimodal assessments of prefrontal cortex functioning

2019-01-01 – 2021-12-31


Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) approaches have been increasingly used to target the
prefrontal cortex (PFC) and to induce activity changes in brain neuronal networks. Innovative
protocols within the field of neurostimulation suggest the combination of distinct NIBS techniques
to maximize required changes in brain activity. However - as the effects from these new protocols
derive from studies stimulating the motor cortex - there is insufficient scientific knowledge the
combination of different NIBS targeting the PFC. Such insights are nevertheless crucial to optimize
the activity changes in neural areas that are known to play a crucial role in patients that are
suffering from a mood disorder.
This project consists on two bilateral large phase-I, well-controlled studies - to be performed at the
University of São Paulo (Brazil) and the Ghent University (Belgium) - that will investigate brain
activity following the proposed innovative NIBS protocol. Our main goals are to:
(1) evaluate the effects of each of the NIBS technique alone and combined;
(2) probe the PFC using the NIBS protocol at rest and under stress; and
(3) use different ways (neuroimaging, neurophysiological, neuropsychological, and behavioral) to
assess the outcomes.
Our findings will not only deep our fundamental understanding of the biological mechanisms
involved in NIBS of the PFC, but will also contribute to the design of further studies in healthy
volunteers and therapeutic protocols in patients.

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