Can Non-invasive Brain Stimulation be used to Treat Apathy in Huntington's Disease?

There are currently no effective treatments for apathy (loss of motivation) caused by HD. I am conducting this study to find out whether transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), a gentle non-invasive brain stimulation technique, can alter brain activity in a way that may be used to increase motivation in people with Huntington’s disease (HD).

How am I investigating non-invasive brain stimulation for apathy in HD?

I am comparing different ways of using tACS to find the most effective way of changing brain activity and altering performance on a motivation task.

What will we learn from this research?

If we can find an effective way of using tACS to alter brain activity and performance, then this may help in the development of clinical interventions for apathy in HD.

Who is eligible?

  • Right-handed adults aged between 18 and 65 years
  • People with a diagnosis of Huntington’s disease
  • People without a diagnosis of Huntington’s disease
  • Not regularly using anticonvulsant medications (e.g., Epilim) or benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium)
  • No history of significant acquired brain injury (e.g., stroke or traumatic brain injury)
  • Not pregnant or breastfeeding
  • No metallic implants within the head, a pacemaker, cochlear implant, medication pump or other electronic device within the body.

What will you need to do?

Attend three separate sessions. The first session will last approximately 3 hours. The remaining two sessions will take approximately 2 hours to complete. Motivation will be studied via a computerised task and brain activity will be monitored using EEG, which is a safe, non-invasive method of recording brain function. I will also ask you to complete some questionnaires and brief cognitive tests.

Where will you need to go?

The Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health in Camberwell. You will be reimbursed for your time.

Ethics Approval: Alfred Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee Project Number 485/18

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HRGV aims to advance knowledge about the cause(s), pathogenesis, clinical and social impacts of Huntington’s disease and related disorders and to develop and implement scientific strategies promising therapeutic and psychosocial interventions.

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