The Science

The science behind Flow

Flow and the brain

  • Depression is associated with lowered activity in a brain area called the DLPFC (Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex). It’s located in the frontal lobe.
  • The Flow headset delivers gentle electrical signals to the DLPFC to help activate the brain cells. As a result, depressive symptoms decrease or disappear.
  • The technology used in the Flow headset is called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).
  • World-leading tDCS researcher and assoc. Professor of Psychiatry, Andre Brunoni, has found that tDCS works best through 30-minute sessions, 2-5 times per week.

Studies on tDCS and depression

The technique used in the Flow headset is solely based on results from RCT* studies, conducted without funding from Flow Neuroscience. One such study included 245 participants with depression. It was conducted in 2017 and showed that 41% of depressed people noticed that at least half of their symptoms disappeared within 6 weeks of using brain stimulation. Only 22% of people in the placebo group experienced similar results.

To learn more about the history of tDCS and how it compares to other brain stimulation techniques, click here.

*An RCT (Randomised Controlled Trial) study is a type of research method used to make sure that results are as reliable as possible

Brunoni, A. R., Moffa, A. H., Sampaio-Junior, B., Borrione, L., Moreno, M. L., Fernandes, R. A., Benseñor, I. M. (2017). Trial of Electrical Direct-Current Therapy versus Antidepressant for Depression. New England Journal of Medicine (26), 2523–2533. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1612999


Brunoni, A. R., Moffa, A. H., Fregni, F., Palm, U., Padberg, F., Blumberger, D. M., … Loo, C. K. (2016). Transcranial direct current stimulation for acute major depressive episodes: meta-analysis of individual patient data. The British Journal of Psychiatry : The Journal of Mental Science, 208(6), 522–531. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.115.164715


Mutz et al (2019). Comparative efficacy and acceptability of non-surgical brain stimulation for the acute treatment of major depressive episodes in adults: systematic review and network meta-analysis: BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1079 

Studies on tDCS and safety

Among many others, a meta-analysis* conducted in 2016 showed that the technique used in the Flow headset is safe and has never been associated with brain damage. The analysis included 1000 research participants and over 33,200 stimulation sessions!

*A meta-analysis is a research method that combines results from multiple studies. This means that the results from a meta-analysis are particularly reliable.

Bikson et al., Safety of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: Evidence Based Update 2016. Brain Stimulation, 9(2016), 641–661. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2016.06.004

Aparício et al., A Systematic Review on the Acceptability and Tolerability of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Treatment in Neuropsychiatry Trials. Brain Stimulation, 9(5), 671–681. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2016.05.004

Nikolin et al., Safety of repeated sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation: A systematic review. Brain Stimulation 11 (2018) 278-288. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2017.10.020

The therapy app

To maximize your chances of recovering from depression, the brain stimulation is combined with behaviour therapy delivered through the app Flow – Depression. The therapy focuses on lifestyle changes that significantly reduce symptoms of depression. Naturally, the facts and techniques presented in the treatment programme are based on RCT (Randomised Controlled Trial) studies and developed by clinical psychologists.


Did you know that regular exercise is just as effective as medication for treating depression? A 30-minute walk increases positive mood immediately. Long-term, exercise stimulates growth of new brain cells.


90% of depressed people struggle with sleep, but there are many things you can do at home to create healthy sleeping habits. According to recent sleep research, sleep can act as a form of overnight therapy.


The SMILES study, conducted in 2017, showed that 30% of depressed participants recovered just by changing their eating habits. The app will tell you all about the Antidepressant diet.


Mindfulness meditation can prevent people from falling into depression. Among other things, regular meditation practice changes the structure of the brain and your way of processing emotions.

Scientific evidence

The Flow brain stimulation treatment is based on decades of clinical research and backed by more than 20 placebo-controlled trials, all published in peer-reviewed journals.

tDCS is comparable to antidepressants and TMS in treating depression
An analysis of 23 clinical trials with 1092 patients, showing that tDCS is superior to placebo/sham
No serious adverse events were found across 33,200 tDCS sessions with 1000 users
Study including 245 patients, comparing tDCS with a common antidepressant
tDCS was found to be efficacious and comparable to TMS
Combining tDCS and a common antidepressant increases the efficacy of each treatment
30-minute tDCS sessions lead to better outcomes than 20-minutes sessions
Side effects from tDCS are mild, transient and well-tolerated
tDCS is efficient in cases where antidepressants don’t work
Low-energy brain stimulation is safe to use
tDCS is safe and effective for treating depression
tDCS is a safe long-term follow-up treatment
The benefits of tDCS persisted for at least 1 month after the end of treatment

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