Guiding transcranial brain stimulation by EEG/MEG to interact with ongoing brain activity and associated functions: A position paper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Gregor Thut
  • Til Ole Bergmann
  • Flavio Fröhlich
  • Surjo R. Soekadar
  • Antoni Valero-Cabré
  • Alexander T. Sack
  • Carlo Miniussi
  • Andrea Antal
  • Hartwig Roman Siebner
  • Ulf Ziemann
  • Christoph S. Herrmann

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Glasgow
  • Department of Neurology & Stroke, and Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University Hospital Tübingen
  • Department of Psychiatry & Department of Biomedical Engineering & Department of Cell Biology and Physiology & Neuroscience Center & Department of Neurology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Applied Neurotechnology Lab, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy & MEG Center, University Hospital of Tübingen
  • Cerebral Dynamics, Plasticity and Rehabilitation Group, Frontlab, Institut du Cerveau et la Moelle (ICM), CNRS UMR 7225-INSERM U-117, Université Pierre et Marie Curie
  • Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University
  • Center for Mind/Brain Sciences CIMeC University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy & Cognitive Neuroscience Section, IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli
  • Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Center
  • Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Centre for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging and Research, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre
  • Department of Neurology, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg
  • Department of Neurology & Stroke, and Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University Tübingen
  • Experimental Psychology Lab, Department of Psychology, Center for Excellence “Hearing4all”, European Medical School, Carl von Ossietzky University & Research Center Neurosensory Science, University of Oldenburg


Non-invasive transcranial brain stimulation (NTBS) techniques have a wide range of applications but also suffer from a number of limitations mainly related to poor specificity of intervention and variable effect size. These limitations motivated recent efforts to focus on the temporal dimension of NTBS with respect to the ongoing brain activity. Temporal patterns of ongoing neuronal activity, in particular brain oscillations and their fluctuations, can be traced with electro- or magnetoencephalography (EEG/MEG), to guide the timing as well as the stimulation settings of NTBS. These novel, online and offline EEG/MEG-guided NTBS-approaches are tailored to specifically interact with the underlying brain activity. Online EEG/MEG has been used to guide the timing of NTBS (i.e., when to stimulate): by taking into account instantaneous phase or power of oscillatory brain activity, NTBS can be aligned to fluctuations in excitability states. Moreover, offline EEG/MEG recordings prior to interventions can inform researchers and clinicians how to stimulate: by frequency-tuning NTBS to the oscillation of interest, intrinsic brain oscillations can be up- or down-regulated. In this paper, we provide an overview of existing approaches and ideas of EEG/MEG-guided interventions, and their promises and caveats. We point out potential future lines of research to address challenges.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-857
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Early online date29 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • non-invasive transcranial brain simulators (NTBS) , electroencephalography , magnetoencephalography , brain oscillations , temporally guided NTBS