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J Neurosci Methods. 2013 Oct 15;219(2):297-311. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2013.07.016. Epub 2013 Aug 14.

Classification of methods in transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) and evolving strategy from historical approaches to contemporary innovations.

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Neural Engineering Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering, The City College of New York of CUNY, New York, NY 10031, USA.


Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (tES) encompasses all methods of non-invasive current application to the brain used in research and clinical practice. We present the first comprehensive and technical review, explaining the evolution of tES in both terminology and dosage over the past 100 years of research to present day. Current transcranial Pulsed Current Stimulation (tPCS) approaches such as Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) descended from Electrosleep (ES) through Cranial Electro-stimulation Therapy (CET), Transcerebral Electrotherapy (TCET), and NeuroElectric Therapy (NET) while others like Transcutaneous Cranial Electrical Stimulation (TCES) descended from Electroanesthesia (EA) through Limoge, and Interferential Stimulation. Prior to a contemporary resurgence in interest, variations of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation were explored intermittently, including Polarizing current, Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS), and Transcranial Micropolarization. The development of these approaches alongside Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and pharmacological developments are considered. Both the roots and unique features of contemporary approaches such as transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) and transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (tRNS) are discussed. Trends and incremental developments in electrode montage and waveform spanning decades are presented leading to the present day. Commercial devices, seminal conferences, and regulatory decisions are noted. We conclude with six rules on how increasing medical and technological sophistication may now be leveraged for broader success and adoption of tES.


Alternating; CES; CET; Contemporary; Cranial; Direct; Dosage; EA; ECT; EN; ES; Electroanesthesia; Electronarcosis; Electrosleep; Electrostimulation; Electrotherapy; FEAST; HD-tDCS; Historical; History; Interferential; Limoge; NET; Pulsed; Stimulation; TCES; TCET; Transcerebral; Transcutaneous; tACS; tDCS; tES; tPCS; tRNS

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