Eyes wide shut: Transcranial alternating current stimulation drives alpha rhythm in a state dependent manner

Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 2;6:27138. doi: 10.1038/srep27138.


Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) is used to modulate brain oscillations to measure changes in cognitive function. It is only since recently that brain activity in human subjects during tACS can be investigated. The present study aims to investigate the phase relationship between the external tACS signal and concurrent brain activity. Subjects were stimulated with tACS at individual alpha frequency during eyes open and eyes closed resting states. Electrodes were placed at Cz and Oz, which should affect parieto-occipital areas most strongly. Source space magnetoencephalography (MEG) data were used to estimate phase coherence between tACS and brain activity. Phase coherence was significantly increased in areas in the occipital pole in eyes open resting state only. The lag between tACS and brain responses showed considerable inter-individual variability. In conclusion, tACS at individual alpha frequency entrains brain activity in visual cortices. Interestingly, this effect is state dependent and is clearly observed with eyes open but only to a lesser extent with eyes closed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*