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Using non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to interact with brain activity and associated functions: brain oscillations as promising targets?

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Brain oscillations reflect interactions between neuronal elements which functionally assemble into networks through synchronization in specific frequency bands, and which can be measured by encephalography (EEG/MEG). NIBS can be used to stimulate cortical areas rhythmically at frequencies that characterize EEG /MEG-signals. This raises a series of intriguing questions: Could frequency-tuned NIBS be used to transiently entrain oscillatory network activity? Could this enhance the specificity of established NIBS interventions by adding a temporal to the customary spatial dimension of targeting? And may this promote associated functions? This talk will cover experiments that used frequency-tuned rhythmic TMS or tACS, combined with EEG /MEG recordings, to guide and document the effects of transcranial stimulation, with an emphasis on the visual/attention system. This has been used to address whether brain oscillations merely reflect correlates of the neuronal processes implementing brain functions (are inevitable side-products) or may also have explanatory power as to how the brain operates, and by extension may serve as targets for experimental and clinical interventions.

Bio: Gregor Thut is a Principle Investigator at the Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging, University of Glasgow. His research interfaces human electrophysiology, non-invasive brain stimulation and cognitive sciences. One of his goals is to develop the existing intervention techniques into more powerful neuroscience tools and clinically effective protocols, to manipulate and better understand the brain-behaviour relationship.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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