Top 100 cited noninvasive neuromodulation clinical trials

Introduction: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are noninvasive neuromodulation techniques used as therapeutic and research tools for several neuropsychiatric conditions. Given the exponential scientific growth of this field, we aimed to systematically review the most cited clinical trials using TMS or tDCS.

Areas covered: A de-novo keyword search strategy identified and characterized the 100 most-cited trials. Total citation count for the most cited trials was 13,204. Articles were published between 2008 and 2014 in 50 different journals with a median impact factor of 6.52 (IQR 3.37). Almost half of the top cited papers were investigating mechanisms of action in healthy subjects. Most studies were feasibility trials and only five were pivotal trials, including the ones used for recent FDA approval. Seven articles were interlinked with another article by at least 25 citations and eight authors had collaborated with at least one other author.

Expert opinion: Although there has been a significant increase in interest for rTMS and tDCS, most of the cited clinical trials are still small feasibility studies, what reinforced the need for more robust clinical trials (larger samples sizes and effects sizes) to better define clinical effectiveness.