A Systematic Review of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Primary Progressive Aphasia: Methodological Considerations

Silke Coemans, Esli Struys, Dorien Vandenborre, Ineke Wilssens, Sebastiaan Engelborghs, Philippe Paquier, Kyrana Tsapkini, Stefanie Keulen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A variety of tDCS approaches has been used to investigate the potential of tDCS to improve language outcomes, or slow down the decay of language competences caused by Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). The employed stimulation protocols and study designs in PPA are generally speaking similar to those deployed in post-stroke aphasic populations. These two etiologies of aphasia however differ substantially in their pathophysiology, and for both conditions the optimal stimulation paradigm still needs to be established. A systematic review was done and after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, 15 articles were analyzed focusing on differences and similarities across studies especially focusing on PPA patient characteristics (age, PPA variant, language background), tDCS stimulation protocols (intensity, frequency, combined therapy, electrode configuration) and study design as recent reviews and group outcomes for individual studies suggest tDCS is an effective tool to improve language outcomes, while methodological approach and patient characteristics are mentioned as moderators that may influence treatment effects. We found that studies of tDCS in PPA have clinical and methodological and heterogeneity regarding patient populations, stimulation protocols and study design. While positive group results are usually found irrespective of these differences, the magnitude, duration and generalization of these outcomes differ when comparing stimulation locations, and when results are stratified according to the clinical variant of PPA. We interpret the results of included studies in light of patient characteristics and methodological decisions. Further, we highlight the role neuroimaging can play in study protocols and interpreting results and make recommendations for future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number710818
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - Oct 7 2021


  • electrode configuration
  • language rehabilitation
  • primary progressiva aphasia
  • speech-and language therapy
  • stimulation parameters
  • transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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