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 Escitalopram 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.