Evidence of transcranial direct current stimulation-generated electric fields at subthalamic level in human brain in vivo.


BACKGROUND:Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a promising brain modulation technique for several disease conditions. With this technique, some portion of the current penetrates through the scalp to the cortex and modulates cortical excitability, but a recent human cadaver study questions the amount. This insufficient intracerebral penetration of currents may partially explain the inconsistent and mixed results in tDCS studies to date. Experimental validation of a transcranial alternating current stimulation-generated electric field (EF) in vivo has been performed on the cortical (using electrocorticography, ECoG, electrodes), subcortical (using stereo electroencephalography, SEEG, electrodes) and deeper thalamic/subthalamic levels (using DBS electrodes). However, tDCS-generated EF measurements have never been attempted. OBJECTIVE:We aimed to demonstrate that tDCS generates biologically relevant EF as deep as the subthalamic level in vivo. METHODS:Patients with movement disorders who have implanted deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrodes serve as a natural experimental model for thalamic/subthalamic recordings of tDCS-generated EF. We measured voltage changes from DBS electrodes and body resistance from tDCS electrodes in three subjects while applying direct current to the scalp at 2 mA and 4 mA over two tDCS montages. RESULTS:Voltage changes at the level of deep nuclei changed proportionally with the level of applied current and varied with different tDCS montages. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest that scalp-applied tDCS generates biologically relevant EF. Incorporation of these experimental results may improve finite element analysis (FEA)-based models.





Thalamus, Humans, Electromagnetic Fields, Adult, Female, Male, Brain Waves, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation


Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Chhatbar, Pratik Y, Steven A Kautz, Istvan Takacs, Nathan C Rowland, Gonzalo J Revuelta, Mark S George, Marom Bikson, Wuwei Feng, et al. (2018). Evidence of transcranial direct current stimulation-generated electric fields at subthalamic level in human brain in vivo. Brain stimulation, 11(4). pp. 727–733. 10.1016/j.brs.2018.03.006 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19125.

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Pratik Yashvant Chhatbar

Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology

Neuromodulation / Neuroprosthetics / Upcoming technologies


Wuwei Feng

Professor of Neurology

Wayne Feng is the Chief of Division of Stroke & Vascular Neurology, Medical Director of Duke Comprehensive Stroke Center, and Tenured Profess of Neurology and Biomedical Engineering at Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Feng is a board-certified vascular neurologist as well as a physician scientist. His research portfolios include developing imaging biomarker for post-stroke motor outcomes prediction, and use of non-invasive brain stimulation tools, such as, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), vagus nerve stimulation, low intensity focused ultrasound and transcranial light stimulation to enhance post-stroke recovery. His research has been actively funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) and other various sources.  He is currently leading an NIH funded 8.9 million U01 12-center, phase II study called TRANSPORT 2 (TRANScranial direct current stimulation for POst-stroke motor Recovery – a phase II sTudy) – on the NINDS funded stroke trial network.

Dr. Feng has published over 150 peer reviewed manuscripts (H index of 36), including two manuscripts featured on the cover page of brain stimulation journal, and one manuscript featured on Journal of Neuroscience. He co-edited - “Cerebral Venous System in Acute and Chronic Brain Injuries” book. He served as the associate editor for Translational Stroke Research from 2019 to 2021(IF=7.0). Dr. Feng received several prestigious awards for his research work in stroke and stroke recovery including the FIRST “Rehabilitation Award” from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in 2015, “Franz Gerstenbrand Award” from World Federation of Neurorehabilitation (WFNR) in 2016, Arthur Guyton New Investigator Award, Consortium for Southeastern Hypertension Control (COSEHC) in 2016 and “Clinical Investigator Award” from the Society of Chinese American Physician Entrepreneur (SCAPE). Currently, he is the Section Chair of Neural Repair & Rehabilitation, the American Academy of Neurology. He leads the global mentoring program for the WFNR. 

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