Patterns of brain oscillations across different electrode montages in transcranial pulsed current stimulation

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Transcranial pulsed current stimulation (tPCS) is a neuromodulatory technique that has been studied in the last decade. Several parameters have been assessed independently to optimize the effects. Our aim was to explore the effects of tPCS using different montages on cortical brain oscillations indexed by power spectrum and interhemispheric coherence in different electroencephalography frequency bands. Twenty healthy individuals were randomized to receive either active tPCS or sham intervention using the following bilateral montages: ear clip (conventional), ear hook, or mastoid placement. Electroencephalography was recorded before and after the electroencephalography intervention to assess tPCS-induced after effects. Our results showed that active tPCS with bimastoid montage increased significantly alpha absolute power (P=0.0166) and low alpha (P=0.0014) in the frontal region, as well as in the low alpha power spectrum in the central (P=0.0001) and parieto-occipital regions (P=0.0068) compared with the other montages. For interhemispheric coherence analysis, the Kruskal–Wallis test showed a significant main effect of group for theta (P=0.0012) in the frontal region, mainly for ear-clip montage. Our findings evidenced that tPCS delivered through different electrode montages exert different effects on cortical brain oscillations and thus have a different neural signature. We discuss the implications of these findings as well as potential clinical explorations of this technique.

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