Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Aphasia: The Case of Mr. C

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Abstract

Purpose: To illustrate the ethical challenges that arose from investigating a novel treatment procedure, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), in a research participant with aphasia. Method: We review the current evidence supporting the use of tDCS in aphasia research, highlighting methodological gaps in our knowledge of tDCS. Then, we examine the case of Mr. C, a person with chronic aphasia who participated in a research protocol investigating the impact of tDCS on aphasia treatment. We describe the procedures that he underwent and the resulting behavioral and neurophysiological outcomes. Finally, we share the steps that were taken to balance benefi cence and nonmaleficence and to ensure Mr. C's autonomy. Results: The objective data show that while Mr. C may not have benefitted from participating in the research, neither did he experience any harm. Conclusion: Researchers must consider not only the scientific integrity of their studies, but also potential ethical issues and consequences to the research participants.

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