Talk by Prof. Dr. Bart Krekelberg (Rutgers University, USA)

Transcranial Current Stimulation: Myths and Mechanisms
© Bart Krekelberg


Transcranial Current Stimulation (TCS) is a method in which electrodes are placed on the scalp and low (<2mA) electrical currents are passed between them. This method is used to modulate brain activity in basic research as well as in clinical applications. For instance, TCS reduces seizures in epilepsy, alleviates chronic pain, can aid recovery after stroke, treats clinical depression, enhances cognition in the healthy elderly, and improves numerical competence. Commercial products are available that claim electrical stimulation improves memory, sleep, and relaxation. This remarkable range of purported effects may be a red flag to a skeptic, but the implications of such a cheap, simple, and noninvasive technique for neuromodulation would be significant even if only a fraction of these claims withstand the test of time. Current understanding of the neural mechanisms that produce these effects in the intact brain is limited. I will present our recent findings that use behavioral, computational, and neurophysiological methods to begin to uncover how TCS affects the brain.