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Predicting the behavioral impact of transcranial direct current stimulation: issues and limitations.

de Berker, AO; Bikson, M; Bestmann, S; (2013) Predicting the behavioral impact of transcranial direct current stimulation: issues and limitations. Front Hum Neurosci , 7 , Article 613 . 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00613. Green open access

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Abstract

The transcranial application of weak currents to the human brain has enjoyed a decade of widespread use, providing a simple and powerful tool for non-invasively altering human brain function. However, our understanding of current delivery and its impact upon neural circuitry leaves much to be desired. We argue that the credibility of conclusions drawn with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is contingent upon realistic explanations of how tDCS works, and that our present understanding of tDCS limits the technique's use to localize function in the human brain. We outline two central issues where progress is required: the localization of currents, and predicting their functional consequence. We encourage experimenters to eschew simplistic explanations of mechanisms of transcranial current stimulation. We suggest the use of individualized current modeling, together with computational neurostimulation to inform mechanistic frameworks in which to interpret the physiological impact of tDCS. We hope that through mechanistically richer descriptions of current flow and action, insight into the biological processes by which transcranial currents influence behavior can be gained, leading to more effective stimulation protocols and empowering conclusions drawn with tDCS.

Type: Article
Title: Predicting the behavioral impact of transcranial direct current stimulation: issues and limitations.
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00613
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00613
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 de Berker, Bikson and Bestmann. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. PMCID: PMC3790257
Keywords: computational neurostimulation, modeling, neuroenhancement, neuromodulation, validation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Movement Neurosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1436010
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