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Unique amongst brain stimulation tools, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) currently lacks an easy or widely implemented method for individualizing dosage.


We developed a method of reverse-calculating electric-field (E-field) models based on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans that can estimate individualized tDCS dose. We also evaluated an MRI-free method of individualizing tDCS dose by measuring transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) motor threshold (MT) and single pulse, suprathreshold transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) MT and regressing it against E-field modeling. Key assumptions of reverse-calculation E-field modeling, including the size of region of interest (ROI) analysis and the linearity of multiple E-field models were also tested.


In 29 healthy adults, we acquired TMS MT, TES MT, and anatomical T1-weighted MPRAGE MRI scans with a fiducial marking the motor hotspot. We then computed a “reverse-calculated tDCS dose” of tDCS applied at the scalp needed to cause a 1.00 V/m E-field at the cortex. Finally, we examined whether the predicted E-field values correlated with each participant’s measured TMS MT or TES MT.


We were able to determine a reverse-calculated tDCS dose for each participant using a 5 × 5 x 5 voxel grid region of interest (ROI) approach (average = 6.03 mA, SD = 1.44 mA, range = 3.75–9.74 mA). The Transcranial Electrical Stimulation MT, but not the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation MT, significantly correlated with the ROI-based reverse-calculated tDCS dose determined by E-field modeling (R2= 0.45, p < 0.001).


Reverse-calculation E-field modeling, alone or regressed against TES MT, shows promise as a method to individualize tDCS dose. The large range of the reverse-calculated tDCS doses between subjects underscores the likely need to individualize tDCS dose. Future research should further examine the use of TES MT to individually dose tDCS as an MRI-free method of dosing tDCS.


This is the authors' manuscript of a work originally published in Brain Stimulation, available at

This is an open access work under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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