Non-invasive Human Brain Stimulation in Cognitive Neuroscience: A Primer

Neuron. 2015 Sep 2;87(5):932-45. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.07.032.


The use of non-invasive brain stimulation is widespread in studies of human cognitive neuroscience. This has led to some genuine advances in understanding perception and cognition, and has raised some hopes of applying the knowledge in clinical contexts. There are now several forms of stimulation, the ability to combine these with other methods, and ethical questions that are special to brain stimulation. In this Primer, we aim to give the users of these methods a starting point and perspective from which to view the key questions and usefulness of the different forms of non-invasive brain stimulation. We have done so by taking a critical view of recent highlights in the literature, selected case studies to illustrate the elements necessary and sufficient for good experiments, and pointed to questions and findings that can only be addressed using interference methods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Neuroscience* / instrumentation
  • Cognitive Neuroscience* / methods
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*