The field of non-invasive brain stimulation has developed significantly over the last two decades. Though two techniques of noninvasive brain stimulation--transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)--are becoming established tools for research in neuroscience and for some clinical applications, related techniques that also show some promising clinical results have not been developed at the same pace. One of these related techniques is cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), a class of transcranial pulsed current stimulation (tPCS). In order to understand further the mechanisms of CES, we aimed to model CES using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-derived finite element head model including cortical and also subcortical structures. Cortical electric field (current density) peak intensities and distributions were analyzed. We evaluated different electrode configurations of CES including in-ear and over-ear montages. Our results confirm that significant amounts of current pass the skull and reach cortical and subcortical structures. In addition, depending on the montage, induced currents at subcortical areas, such as midbrain, pons, thalamus and hypothalamus are of similar magnitude than that of cortical areas. Incremental variations of electrode position on the head surface also influence which cortical regions are modulated. The high-resolution modeling predictions suggest that details of electrode montage influence current flow through superficial and deep structures. Finally we present laptop based methods for tPCS dose design using dominant frequency and spherical models. These modeling predictions and tools are the first step to advance rational and optimized use of tPCS and CES.
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