Re-establishing the merits of electrical brain stimulation

Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Sep;17(9):442-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


During the past decades, direct electrical stimulation (DES) has been a key method not only in determining the organization of brain networks mediating movement, language, and cognition but also in establishing many central concepts of modern neuroscience, such as the electrical nature of neural transmission, the localization of brain functions, and the homuncular arrangement of sensorimotor areas. However, recent criticisms have questioned the utility of DES and argued that data collected with this technique may be flawed and unreliable. As with every other neuroscientific method, DES does have limitations. However, existing evidence argues strongly for its validity and usefulness by demonstrating that DES produces highly specific outcomes at well-defined anatomical sites and significantly minimizes postoperative deficits in brain-damaged patients.

Keywords: Brain mapping; Electric stimulation; Intraoperative mapping; Motor evoked potentials; Motor intention; Somatotopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation*
  • Humans