TMS-EEG: A window into the neurophysiological effects of transcranial electrical stimulation in non-motor brain regions

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Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) techniques are able to induce changes in cortical excitability and plasticity through the administration of weak currents to the brain and are currently being used to manipulate a vast array of cognitive processes. Despite the widespread use of tES technologies within both research and remedial settings, their precise neurophysiological mechanisms of action are not well established outside of the motor cortex. The expanding use of tES within non-motor brain regions highlights the growing need for a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of stimulation across a diversity of cortical locations. The combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation with electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) provides a method of directly probing both local and widespread changes in brain neurophysiology, through the recording of TMS-evoked potentials and cortical oscillations. In this review we explore TMS-EEG as a tool for examining the impact of tES on cortical function and argue that multimodal approaches which combine tES with TMS-EEG could lead to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms which underlie tES-induced cognitive modulation.

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