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Brain Stimulation Lab

Researchers in the School uses two types of brain stimulation in their experiments. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses a figure-of-eight shaped coil to deliver brief pulses of a magnetic field. This causes brain cells near to the coil to fire in synchrony, followed by a ‘silent period’ when the brain area is less active. This technique is sometimes called a ‘virtual lesion’ because it may mimic the symptoms of a small stroke; however TMS does not cause permanent damage to the brain.

The second type of stimulation is called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and uses small electrical currents to subtly change the activity of brain areas. tDCS does not make the brain’s cells fire, but makes them more or less responsive to input from other areas of the brain. tDCS is useful because it may allow brain activity to be enhanced, whereas TMS usually only disrupts brain function.

In the School we use a TMS system supplied by Magstim to deliver single- and patterned-pulse stimulation, which we combine with a Polaris neuronavigation system from Rogue Resolutions. Our tDCS equipment was also supplied by Rogue Resolutions. Both of these systems have been interfaced in experiments with equipment for eye-tracking, electromyography (EMG), electroencephalography (EEG), and for kinematic recording.