Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Marom Bikson


electrosleep, modelling, tpcs


Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (tES) encompasses all methods of non-invasive current application to the brain used in research and clinical practice. We present the first comprehensive and technical review, explaining the evolution of tES in both terminology and dosage over the past 100 years of research to present day. Current transcranial Pulsed Current Stimulation (tPCS) approaches such as Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) descended from Electrosleep (ES) through Cranial Electro-stimulation Therapy (CET), Transcerebral Electrotherapy (TCET), and NeuroElectric Therapy (NET) while others like Transcutaneous Cranial Electrical Stimulation (TCES) descended from Electroanesthesia (EA) through Limoge, and Interferential Stimulation. Prior to a contemporary resurgence in interest, variations of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation were explored intermittently, including Polarizing current, Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS), and Transcranial Micropolarization. The development of these approaches alongside Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and pharmacological developments are considered. Both the roots and unique features of contemporary approaches such as transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) and transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (tRNS) are discussed. Trends and incremental developments in electrode montage and waveform spanning decades are presented leading to the present day. Commercial devices, seminal conferences, and regulatory decisions are noted. This is concluded with six rules on how increasing medical and technological sophistication may now be leveraged for broader success and adoption of tES.

Despite this history, questions regarding the efficacy of ES remain including optimal dose (electrode placement and waveform). An investigation into brain electric field and current density produced by various montages that are historically relevant to ES was done to evaluate how these montages effect the brain. MRI-derived head models that were segmented using an automated segmentation algorithm and manual corrections were solved for four different electrode montages. The montages that were used are as follows: Sponge electrode on left and right eyes (active), Sponge electrodes over left and right mastoids (return); Sponge electrodes above left and right eyes (active), Sponge electrodes over left and right mastoids (return); High-Definition (HD) electrodes on AF3 and AF4 (active), 5x7 cm sponge on neck (return); HD electrodes on AF3 and AF4 (active), 5x7 sponge electrode on Iz (return). A high concentration of electric field was found on the optic nerve, with levels lowered as the electrodes moved further away from the eyes. There was also a moderate current density on the amygdala, a center involved with anxiety, as well as high electric fields on the brain stem which are centers for sleep.

Using the models that were run for the electrosleep inspired montages the montage that was selected for the proposed experiment was to use anodes on AF3 and AF4 with the cathode on Iz. The anodes will be HD electrodes while the cathode will be a 5x7 cm sponge. Subjects will be split into 4 groups of 8 people each and will receive two legs of stimulation spaced one week apart. One leg will have current of 2 mA, 1 mA, 0.5 mA or sham while the other leg is all sham and the order in which they receive it will be randomized. Subjects will be stimulated for 20 minutes at 100 Hz and will spend a total of 40 minutes during the experiment where they will have their eyes recorded with an IR sensitive camera and they will be required to perform an odd-tone response task. Subjects are expected to fall asleep faster with higher levels of current and there is no added effect from baseline expected for subjects who receive sham stimulation



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