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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Brain stimulation with weak electrical currents (transcranial electrical stimulation, tES) is known already for about 60 years as a technique to generate modifications of cortical excitability and activity. Originally established in animal models, it was developed as a noninvasive brain stimulation tool about 20 years ago for application in humans. Stimulation with direct currents (transcranial direct current stimulation, tDCS) induces acute cortical excitability alterations, as well as neuroplastic after-effects, whereas stimulation with alternating currents (transcranial alternating current stimulation, tACS) affects primarily oscillatory brain activity but has also been shown to induce neuroplasticity effects. Beyond their respective regional effects, both stimulation techniques have also an impact on cerebral networks. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been pivotal to helping reveal the physiological effects and mechanisms of action of both stimulation techniques for motor cortex application, but also for stimulation of other areas. This chapter will supply the reader with an overview about the effects of tES on human brain physiology, as revealed by TMS.

Keywords: transcranial direct current stimulation, transcranial alternating current stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, plasticity, network effect, neurotransmitter, neuromodulator, practical application, entrainment, metaplasticity

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