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Double-Blind, Sham-Controlled, Pilot Study of Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder



Trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS), a minimal-risk noninvasive neuromodulation method, showed potential benefits for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in an unblinded open study. The present blinded sham-controlled trial was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of TNS for ADHD and potential changes in brain spectral power using resting-state quantitative electroencephalography.


Sixty-two children 8 to 12 years old, with full-scale IQ of at least 85 and Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia-diagnosed ADHD, were randomized to 4 weeks of nightly treatment with active or sham TNS, followed by 1 week without intervention. Assessments included weekly clinician-administered ADHD Rating Scales (ADHD-RS) and Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scales and quantitative electroencephalography at baseline and week 4.


ADHD-RS total scores showed significant group-by-time interactions (F1,228 = 8.12, p = .005; week 4 Cohen d = 0.5). CGI-Improvement scores also favored active treatment (χ21,168 = 8.75, p = .003; number needed to treat = 3). Resting-state quantitative electroencephalography showed increased spectral power in the right frontal and frontal midline frequency bands with active TNS. Neither group had clinically meaningful adverse events.


This study demonstrates TNS efficacy for ADHD in a blinded sham-controlled trial, with estimated treatment effect size similar to non-stimulants. TNS is well tolerated and has minimal risk. Additional research should examine treatment response durability and potential impact on brain development with sustained use.

Clinical trial registration information

Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation for ADHD;; NCT02155608.

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