Noninvasive Transcranial Brain Stimulation (NTBS)

Instructor: Professor Vincenzo Romei | University of Essex, UK

NTBS: History, Basic Principles and Safety
Here I will provide a general introduction on the development of NTBS approaches. This will mainly include Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and transcranial electric stimulation (tES). What are their basic principles? In what they are similar and in what they differ. Why they are considered to be noninvasive? What are the fundamental safety rules to follow for them to be considered safe and noninvasive?

NTBS: standard paradigms and protocols
Classic TMS and tES protocols will be described. For TMS, this will include single and paired pulses stimulation, single and dual coil protocols, “virtual lesion” protocols, repetitive TMS, etc. tES protocols will include description of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) and transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (tRNS). Relevant scientific advances using these approaches will be showcased.

NTBS and their combination with neuroimaging and electrophysiological measurements: why and what for?
I will provide detailed information of the advantages and technical challenges of combining NTBS protocols with neuroimaging and electrophysiological measurements such as fMRI and M/EEG. In particular I will focus on the enhanced potential of combining these techniques, achieving an informative resolution that is more than the simple summation of the information that could be gathered by any of these techniques when used in isolation. Technical challenges and ways to overcome them will be similarly discussed.

Information-based approaches of NTBS: enhancing specificity of NTBS interventions
Not only over a correlative approach: over a model of the brain as a black box and NTBS interventions as merely inhibiting or exciting the stimulated site. Here I will provide evidence that it is possible to significantly enhance the level of specificity of current NTBS approaches by using biologically inspired models of intervention. I will introduce novel NTBS approaches integrating previous knowledge of brain mechanisms and functions aimed at mimicking and therefore interacting with such mechanisms and functions in a very highly specific and predictable manner.  I will present and discuss, among the others, models of intervention testing “state dependency”, “oscillatory entrainment” and “Hebbian plasticity”.

Hands on NTBS
A final hands-on session allowing familiarization with NTBS tools and protocols discussed in the previous lectures is provided. Productive effects of TMS will be showcased. Students will be able to see and practice some of the relevant applications of NTBS covered during the course.

At the end of the course, the students will gain substantial theoretical and practical knowledge of NTBS protocols spanning from basic principles of intervention and safety regulations up to the current state of the art including novel protocols development and their multi-methods combination.    

Relevant readings:

Romei V, Thut G, Silvanto J. Information-Based Approaches of Noninvasive
Transcranial Brain Stimulation. Trends Neurosci. 2016 Nov;39(11):782-795.

Thut G, Veniero D, Romei V, Miniussi C, Schyns P, Gross J. Rhythmic TMS causes local entrainment of natural oscillatory signatures. Curr Biol. 2011 Jul

Romei V, Gross J, Thut G. On the role of prestimulus alpha rhythms over
occipito-parietal areas in visual input regulation: correlation or causation? J
Neurosci. 2010 Jun 23;30(25):8692-7.

Romei V, Brodbeck V, Michel C, Amedi A, Pascual-Leone A, Thut G. Spontaneous fluctuations in posterior alpha-band EEG activity reflect variability in excitability of human visual areas. Cereb Cortex. 2008 Sep;18(9):2010-8.

Rossi S, Hallett M, Rossini PM, Pascual-Leone A; Safety of TMS Consensus
Group.. Safety, ethical considerations, and application guidelines for the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation in clinical practice and research. Clin
Neurophysiol. 2009 Dec;120(12):2008-39.