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Transcranial electric stimulation modulates firing rate at clinically relevant intensities


Notwithstanding advances with low-intensity transcranial electrical stimulation (TES), there remain questions about the efficacy of clinically realistic electric fields on neuronal function. We used Neuropixels 2.0 probe with 384 channels in an in-vivo rat model of TES to detect effects of weak fields on neuronal firing rate. High-density field mapping and computational models verified field intensity (1 V/m in hippocampus per 50 µA of applied skull currents). We demonstrate that electric fields below 0.5 V/m acutely modulate firing rate in 5% of neurons recorded in the hippocampus. At these intensities, average firing rate effects increased monotonically with electric field intensity at a rate of 7 % per V/m. For the majority of excitatory neurons, firing increased for cathodal stimulation and diminished for anodal stimulation. While more diverse, the response of inhibitory neurons followed a similar pattern on average, likely as a result of excitatory drive. Our results indicate that responses to TES at clinically relevant intensities are driven by a fraction of high-responder excitatory neurons, with polarity-specific effects. We conclude that transcranial electric stimulation is an effective neuromodulator at clinically realistic intensities.


Forouzan FarahaniNiranjan KhadkaLucas C. ParraMarom BiksonMihály Vöröslakos

Published: 2024

PMID: 38631548



Research Area:

Developmental Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, Methodological Studies