Addressing transcranial electrical stimulation variability through prospective individualized dosing of electric field strength in 300 participants across two samples: the 2-SPED approach

Sybren Van Hoornweder*, Kevin A. Caulfield, Michael Nitsche, Axel Thielscher, Raf L.J. Meesen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Objective. Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) is a promising method for modulating brain activity and excitability with variable results to date. To minimize electric (E-)field strength variability, we introduce the 2-sample prospective E-field dosing (2-SPED) approach, which uses E-field strengths induced by tES in a first population to individualize stimulation intensity in a second population. Approach. We performed E-field modeling of three common tES montages in 300 healthy younger adults. First, permutation analyses identified the sample size required to obtain a stable group average E-field in the primary motor cortex (M1), with stability being defined as the number of participants where all group-average E-field strengths ± standard deviation did not leave the population’s 5-95 percentile range. Second, this stable group average was used to individualize tES intensity in a second independent population (n = 100). The impact of individualized versus fixed intensity tES on E-field strength variability was analyzed. Main results. In the first population, stable group average E-field strengths (V/m) in M1 were achieved at 74-85 participants, depending on the tES montage. Individualizing the stimulation intensity (mA) in the second population resulted in uniform M1 E-field strength (all p < 0.001) and significantly diminished peak cortical E-field strength variability (all p < 0.01), across all montages. Significance. 2-SPED is a feasible way to prospectively induce more uniform E-field strengths in a region of interest. Future studies might apply 2-SPED to investigate whether decreased E-field strength variability also results in decreased physiological and behavioral variability in response to tES.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056045
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Volume19
Issue number5
Number of pages11
ISSN1741-2560
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Computational dosimetry
  • Electric field (E-field) modeling
  • Finite element method (FEM)
  • Noninvasive brain stimulation
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
  • Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES)

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