News & Media

March 22, 2016

tDCS induces astrocytic calcium surges


A research team led by Hajime Hirase at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered that the benefits of stimulating the brain with direct current come from its effects on astrocytes — not neurons — in the mouse brain. Published in Nature Communications, the work shows that applying direct current to the head releases synchronized waves of calcium from astrocytes that can reduce depressive symptoms and lead to a general increase in neural plasticity — the ability of neuronal connections to change when we try to learn or form memories.

This movie shows that low spontaneous calcium activity in a normal mouse followed by tDCS-induced astrocytic calcium surges (top) and tDCS-induced calcium surges are absent in an IP3 Receptor 2 knockout mouse (bottom).

Learn more: Calcium waves in the brain alleviate depressive behavior in mice