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Brunoni A.R.,University of Sao Paulo | Tadini L.,Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la Neurostimolazione | Tadini L.,Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center | Fregni F.,Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Background: There have been many changes in clinical trials methodology since the introduction of lithium and the beginning of the modern era of psychopharmacology in 1949. The nature and importance of these changes have not been fully addressed to date. As methodological flaws in trials can lead to false-negative or false-positive results, the objective of our study was to evaluate the impact of methodological changes in psychopharmacology clinical research over the past 60 years. Methodology/Principal Findings: We performed a systematic review from 1949 to 2009 on MEDLINE and Web of Science electronic databases, and a hand search of high impact journals on studies of seven major drugs (chlorpromazine, clozapine, risperidone, lithium, fluoxetine and lamotrigine). All controlled studies published 100 months after the first trial were included. Ninety-one studies met our inclusion criteria. We analyzed the major changes in abstract reporting, study design, participants' assessment and enrollment, methodology and statistical analysis. Our results showed that the methodology of psychiatric clinical trials changed substantially, with quality gains in abstract reporting, results reporting, and statistical methodology. Recent trials use more informed consent, periods of washout, intention-to-treat approach and parametric tests. Placebo use remains high and unchanged over time. Conclusions/Significance: Clinical trial quality of psychopharmacological studies has changed significantly in most of the aspects we analyzed. There was significant improvement in quality reporting and internal validity. These changes have increased study efficiency; however, there is room for improvement in some aspects such as rating scales, diagnostic criteria and better trial reporting. Therefore, despite the advancements observed, there are still several areas that can be improved in psychopharmacology clinical trials. © 2010 Brunoni et al. Source

Cogiamanian F.,Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la Neurostimolazione | Cogiamanian F.,University of Milan | Brunoni A.R.,University of Sao Paulo | Boggio P.S.,Center for Health and Biological science | And 5 more authors.
Medical Hypotheses

The neural control of the cardiovascular system is a complex process that involves many structures at different levels of nervous system. Several cortical areas are involved in the control of systemic blood pressure, such as the sensorimotor cortex, the medial prefrontal cortex and the insular cortex. Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques - repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) - induce sustained and prolonged functional changes of the human cerebral cortex. rTMS and tDCS has led to positive results in the treatment of some neurological and psychiatric disorders. Because experiments in animals show that cortical modulation can be an effective method to regulate the cardiovascular system, non-invasive brain stimulation might be a novel tool in the therapeutics of human arterial hypertension. We here review the experimental evidence that non-invasive brain stimulation can influence the autonomic nervous system and discuss the hypothesis that focal modulation of cortical excitability by rTMS or tDCS can influence sympathetic outflow and, eventually, blood pressure, thus providing a novel therapeutic tool for human arterial hypertension. © 2009. Source

Tadini L.,Harvard University | Tadini L.,Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la Neurostimolazione | Tadini L.,University of Milan | El-Nazer R.,Harvard University | And 11 more authors.
Journal of ECT

OBJECTIVES: The use of noninvasive cortical electrical stimulation with weak currents has significantly increased in basic and clinical human studies. Initial, preliminary studies with this technique have shown encouraging results; however, the safety and tolerability of this method of brain stimulation have not been sufficiently explored yet. The purpose of our study was to assess the effects of direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) stimulation at different intensities in order to measure their effects on cognition, mood, and electroencephalogram. METHODS: Eighty-two healthy, right-handed subjects received active and sham stimulation in a randomized order. We conducted 164 ninety-minute sessions of electrical stimulation in 4 different protocols to assess safety of (1) anodal DC of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC); (2) cathodal DC of the DLPFC; (3) intermittent anodal DC of the DLPFC and; (4) AC on the zygomatic process. We used weak currents of 1 to 2 mA (for DC experiments) or 0.1 to 0.2 mA (for AC experiment). RESULTS: We found no significant changes in electroencephalogram, cognition, mood, and pain between groups and a low prevalence of mild adverse effects (0.11% and 0.08% in the active and sham stimulation groups, respectively), mainly, sleepiness and mild headache that were equally distributed between groups. CONCLUSIONS: Here, we show no neurophysiological or behavioral signs that transcranial DC stimulation or AC stimulation with weak currents induce deleterious changes when comparing active and sham groups. This study provides therefore additional information for researchers and ethics committees, adding important results to the safety pool of studies assessing the effects of cortical stimulation using weak electrical currents. Further studies in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders are warranted. © 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Source

Fumagalli M.,University of Milan | Fumagalli M.,Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la Neurostimolazione | Vergari M.,Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la Neurostimolazione | Pasqualetti P.,Associazione Fatebenefratelli per la Ricerca AFaR | And 16 more authors.

Decision often implies a utilitarian choice based on personal gain, even at the expense of damaging others. Despite the social implications of utilitarian behavior, its neurophysiological bases remain largely unknown. To assess how the human brain controls utilitarian behavior, we delivered transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the ventral prefrontal cortex (VPC) and over the occipital cortex (OC) in 78 healthy subjects. Utilitarian judgment was assessed with the moral judgment task before and after tDCS. At baseline, females provided fewer utilitarian answers than males for personal moral dilemmas (p = .007). In males, VPC-tDCS failed to induce changes and in both genders OC-tDCS left utilitarian judgments unchanged. In females, cathodal VPC-tDCS tended to decrease whereas anodal VPC-tDCS significantly increased utilitarian responses (p = .005). In males and females, reaction times for utilitarian responses significantly decreased after cathodal (p<.001) but not after anodal (p = .735) VPC-tDCS. We conclude that ventral prefrontal tDCS interferes with utilitarian decisions, influencing the evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of each option in both sexes, but does so more strongly in females. Whereas cathodal tDCS alters the time for utilitarian reasoning in both sexes, anodal stimulation interferes more incisively in women, modifying utilitarian reasoning and the possible consequent actions. The genderrelated tDCS-induced changes suggest that the VPC differentially controls utilitarian reasoning in females and in males. The gender-specific functional organization of the brain areas involved in utilitarian behavior could be a correlate of the moral and social behavioral differences between the two sexes. © 2010 Fumagalli et al. Source

Fumagalli M.,University of Milan | Fumagalli M.,Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la Neurostimolazione | Ferrucci R.,University of Milan | Ferrucci R.,Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la Neurostimolazione | And 15 more authors.
Cognitive Processing

The moral sense is among the most complex aspects of the human mind. Despite substantial evidence confirming gender-related neurobiological and behavioral differences, and psychological research suggesting gender specificities in moral development, whether these differences arise from cultural effects or are innate remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of gender, education (general education and health education) and religious belief (Catholic and non-Catholic) on moral choices by testing 50 men and 50 women with a moral judgment task. Whereas we found no differences between the two genders in utilitarian responses to non-moral dilemmas and to impersonal moral dilemmas, men gave significantly more utilitarian answers to personal moral (PM) dilemmas (i.e., those courses of action whose endorsement involves highly emotional decisions). Cultural factors such as education and religion had no effect on performance in the moral judgment task. These findings suggest that the cognitive-emotional processes involved in evaluating PM dilemmas differ in men and in women, possibly reflecting differences in the underlying neural mechanisms. Gender-related determinants of moral behavior may partly explain gender differences in real-life involving power management, economic decision-making, leadership and possibly also aggressive and criminal behaviors. © 2009 Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag. Source

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