Dr. Marom Bikson interviewed by US News and World Report for a feature on

Can Transcranial Stimulation Help With Depression?

“Brain zapping”  helps patients who don’t respond to other treatments.

Read it link

“Bikson sees great strides being made in the coming years. “We are at baby aspirin levels of dosage and flip-phone levels of technology,” he says. “We have not even scratched the surface. We haven’t seen anything yet in the potential of electroceuticals.”

Dr. Marom Bikson co-edited a Frontiers book that assembles a collection of papers from experts in the field of non-invasive brain stimulation that discuss the strength of the evidence regarding the potential of tDCS to modulate different aspects of cognition; methodological caveats associated with the technique that may account for the variability in the reported findings; and a set of challenges and future directions for the use of tDCS that can determine its potential as a reliable method for cognitive rehabilitation, maintenance, or enhancement.

Link to full eBook


This special issue also features an article by a Ph.D. student in our group, Zeinab Esmailpour, titled “Notes on Human Trials of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation between 1960 and 1998”.

Link to Zeinab’s article in tDCS eBook


Event Time and Location: Thursday 11/16 at noon in CDI 3.352

Zeinab Esmaeilpour will present her work on brain stimulation and fMRI

tDCS integration with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive stimulation method that provides clinicians and researchers a tool to modulate central nervous system excitability in human and thereby contribute to exploration of brain-behavior relationship and develop treatment for various neurological and psychiatric disorders. However, despite its obvious promise, the potential of tDCS cannot be fully exploited as there is still a lack of understanding of the neural mechanisms underpinning stimulation. A key methodological advance toward bridging the gap in our understanding of the neural mechanisms of tDCS effects involves integration of tDCS with modern clinical and cognitive neuroscience techniques.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a high degree of spatial resolution regarding both brain structure and function, with the ability to assess brain-behavior questions across the entire brain. Thus, integration of tDCS with functional MRI provides the ability to evaluate not only correlations between brain function and behavior, but also experimentally manipulate brain activity in stimulated brain regions and assess how these observational relationships between the brain and behavior change. Thus, integration of tDCS with functional MRI has the potential to provide greater causal insight into the brain-behavior relationship in contrast to observational studies using these methods in isolation.

However, in recent years, there has been an increasing interest in using advanced neuroimaging techniques to study the effects of tDCS – both in healthy controls and clinical populations. Once technical difficulties are overcome, the combination of tDCS with functional MRI provides a powerful tool that allows us to study not only brain regions directly stimulated by tDCS, but also how tDCS modulates activity in the rest of the brain. In the literature of tDCS-fMRI, this combination could be categorized into three different groups: Hypothesis testing, outcome measure and response prediction.

Dr. Marom Bikson and Dr. Lucas Parra provided a joint lecture at the NIH NIMH sponsored Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation E-Field Modelling Workshop on Nov 11, 2017

Title: ROAST and HD-Explore: Overview and Hands On Softwares to model transcranial Electrical Stimulation

Download Soterix Medical HDexplore demo here

Download CCNY ROAST here

Download slides: Bikson_Parra_Modeling.compressed

Limited output transcranial electrical stimulation (LOTES-2017): Engineering principles, regulatory statutes, and industry standards for wellness, over-the-counter, or prescription devices with low risk. Download: PDF

Marom Bikson, Bhaskar Paneri, Andoni Mourdoukoutas, Zeinab Esmaeilpour, Bashar W. Badran, Robin Azzam, Devin Adair, Abhishek Datta, Xiao Hui Fang, Brett Wingeiner, Daniel Chao, Miguel Alonso-Alonso, Kiwon Lee, Helena Knotkova, Adam J. Woods, David Hagedorn, Doug Jeffery, James Giordano, William J. Tyler.


We present device standards for low-power non-invasive electrical brain stimulation devices classified as limited output transcranial electrical stimulation (tES). Emerging applications of limited output tES to modulate brain function span techniques to stimulate brain or nerve structures, including transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), and trancranial pulsed current stimulation (tPCS), have engendered discussion on how access to technology  should be regulated. In regards to legal regulations and manufacturing standards for comparable technologies, a comprehensive framework already exists, including quality systems (QS), risk management, and (inter) national electrotechnical standards (IEC). In Part 1, relevant statutes are described for medical and wellness application. While agencies overseeing medical devices have broad jurisdiction, enforcement typically focuses on those devices with medical claims or posing significant risk. Consumer protections regarding responsible marketing and manufacture apply regardless. In Part 2 of this paper, we classify the electrical output performance of devices cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription electrostimulation devices, devices available for therapeutic or cosmetic purposes, and devices indicated for stimulationof the body or head. Examples include iontophoresis devices, powered muscle stimulators (PMS), cranial electrotheraphy stimulation (CES), and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) devices. Spanning over 13 FDA product codes, more than 1200 electrical stimulators have been cleared for marketing since 1977. The output characteristics of conventional tDCS,tACS, and tPCS techniques are well below those of most FDA cleared devices, including devices that are available OTC and those intended for stimulation on the head. This engineering analysis demonstrates that with regard to output performance and standing regulation, the availability of tDCS, tACS, or tPCS to the public would not introduce risk, provided such devices are responsibly manufactured and legally marketed. In Part 3, we develop voluntary manufacturer guidance for limited output tES that is aligned with current regulatory standards. Based on established medical engineering and scientific principles, we outline a robust and transparent technical framework for ensuring limited output tES devices are designed to minimize risks, while also supporting access and innovation. Alongside applicable medical and government activities , this voluntary industry standard (LOTES-2017) further serves an important role in supporting informed decisions by the public.


Event Time and Location: Wednesday, October 18th @ 3PM in Steinman Hall Rm 402

David J. Christini, Ph.D. (Vice Dean, Weill Cornell Graduate School Professor, Department of Medicine Weill Cornell Medicine) Utilizing intact cardiac cell electrophysiological protocols to create more robust computational models

Abstract: The traditional paradigm for developing cardiac computational cell models utilizes data from
multiple cell types, species, laboratories, and experimental conditions to create a composite model.
While such models can accurately represent data in limited biological scenarios, their ability to predict
behavior outside of a narrow dynamic window is limited. This talk will describe novel
electrophysiological protocols that aim to densely sample the dynamics of intact cardiac myocytes. The
information-rich data from such protocols are then fit using complex parameter optimization
algorithms to tune multiple model parameters at one time. By so doing, this approach yields cell
models that fit wide-ranging cellular behavior, making them better suited to make physiological and
pathophysiological predictions.

ABSTRACT (PDF:download)
Positive emotional perceptions and healthy emotional intelligence (EI) are important for social
functioning. In this study, we investigated whether loving kindness meditation (LKM) combined
with anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) would facilitate improvements in EI and
changes in affective experience of visual stimuli. LKM has been shown to increase positive
emotional experiences and we hypothesized that tDCS could enhance these effects. Eightyseven
undergraduates were randomly assigned to 30 minutes of LKM or a relaxation control
recording with anodal tDCS applied to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (left dlPFC) or right
temporoparietal junction (right TPJ) at 0.1 or 2.0 milliamps. The primary outcomes were selfreported
affect ratings of images from the International Affective Picture System and EI as
measured by the Mayer, Salovey and Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test. Results indicated no
effects of training on EI, and no main effects of LKM, electrode placement, or tDCS current
strength on affect ratings. There was a significant interaction of electrode placement by meditation
condition (p = 0.001), such that those assigned to LKM and right TPJ tDCS, regardless of
current strength, rated neutral and positive images more positively after training. Results suggest
that LKM may enhance positive affective experience.

















Event Time and Location: Thursday 10/26 at noon in CDI 3.352

Samantha Cohen will lead a discussion of  the linked paper:
“Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex “
The meaning of language is represented in regions of the cerebral cortex collectively known as the ‘semantic system’. However, little of the semantic system has been mapped comprehensively, and the semantic selectivity of most regions is unknown. Here we systematically map semantic selectivity across the cortex using voxel-wise modelling of functional MRI (fMRI) data collected while subjects listened to hours of narrative stories. We show that the semantic system is organized into intricate patterns that seem to be consistent across individuals. We then use a novel generative model to create a detailed semantic atlas. Our results suggest that most areas within the semantic system represent information about specific semantic domains, or groups of related concepts, and our atlas shows which domains are represented in each area. This study demonstrates that data-driven methods—commonplace in studies of human neuroanatomy and functional connectivity—provide a powerful and efficient means for mapping functional representations in the brain.

Objectives: To develop the first high-resolution, multi-scale model of cervical non-invasive vagus
nerve stimulation (nVNS) and to predict vagus fiber type activation, given clinically relevant rheobase thresholds.
Methods: An MRI-derived Finite Element Method (FEM) model was developed to accurately simulate key
macroscopic (e.g., skin, soft tissue, muscle) and mesoscopic (cervical enlargement, vertebral arch
and foramen, cerebral spinal fluid [CSF], nerve sheath) tissue components to predict extracellular
potential, electric field (E-Field), and activating function along the vagus nerve. Micro- scopic
scale biophysical models of axons were developed to compare axons of varying size (Aa-, Ab- and
Ad-, B, and C-fibers). Rheobase threshold estimates were based on a step function waveform.
Results: Macro-scale accuracy was found to determine E-Field magnitudes around the vagus nerve,
while meso-scale precision determined E-field changes (activating function). Mesoscopic anatomical
details that capture vagus nerve passage through a changing tissue environment (e.g., bone to soft
tissue) profoundly enhanced predicted axon sensitivity while encapsulation in homogenous tissue
(e.g., nerve sheath) dulled axon sensitivity to nVNS.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that realistic and precise modeling at both macroscopic and
mesoscopic scales are needed for quantitative predictions of vagus nerve activation. Based on this
approach, we predict conventional cervical nVNS protocols can activate A- and B- but not C-fibers.
Our state-of-the-art implementation across scales is equally valuable for models of spinal cord
stimulation, cortex/deep brain stimulation, and other peripheral/cranial nerve models.

Full PDF : High resolution MSCM



Event Time and Location: Wednesday, October 18th @ 3PM in Steinman Hall Rm 402

Dr. Qi Wang (Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University), Top-down and bottom-up modulation of neural coding in the somatosensory thalamus.

Abstract: The transformation of sensory signals into spatiotemporal patterns of neural activity in the brain is critical in forming our perception of the external world. Physical signals, such as light, sound, and force, are transduced to neural electrical impulses, or spikes, at the periphery, and these spikes are subsequently transmitted to the neocortex through the thalamic stage of the sensory pathways, ultimately forming the cortical representation of the sensory world. The bottom-up (by external stimulus properties) or top-down (by internal brain state) modulation of coding properties of thalamic relay neurons provides a powerful means by which to control and shape information flow to cortex. My talk will focus on two topics. First, I will show that sensory adaptation strongly shapes thalamic synchrony and dictates the window of integration of the recipient cortical targets, and therefore switches the nature of what information about the outside world is being conveyed to cortex. Second, I will discuss how the locus coeruleus – norepinephrine (LC-NE) system modulates thalamic sensory processing. Our data demonstrated that LC activation increased the feature sensitivity, and thus information transmission while decreasing their firing rate for thalamic relay neurons. Moreover, this enhanced thalamic sensory processing resulted from modulation of the dynamics of the thalamorecticulo-thalamic circuit by LC activation. Taken together, an understanding of the top-down and bottom-up modulation of thalamic sensory processing will not only provide insight about neurological disorders involving aberrant thalamic sensory processing, but also enable the development of neural interface technologies for enhancing sensory perception and learning.