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Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;116:329-42. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53497-2.00027-9.

Transcranial electric and magnetic stimulation: technique and paradigms.

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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Center, Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address:


Transcranial electrical and magnetic stimulation techniques encompass a broad physical variety of stimuli, ranging from static magnetic fields or direct current stimulation to pulsed magnetic or alternating current stimulation with an almost infinite number of possible stimulus parameters. These techniques are continuously refined by new device developments, including coil or electrode design and flexible control of the stimulus waveforms. They allow us to influence brain function acutely and/or by inducing transient plastic after-effects in a range from minutes to days. Manipulation of stimulus parameters such as pulse shape, intensity, duration, and frequency, and location, size, and orientation of the electrodes or coils enables control of the immediate effects and after-effects. Physiological aspects such as stimulation at rest or during attention or activation may alter effects dramatically, as does neuropharmacological drug co-application. Non-linear relationships between stimulus parameters and physiological effects have to be taken into account.


transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS); transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS); transcranial electrical stimulation (TES); transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS); transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS)

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