Manipulative approaches to human brain dynamics
Risto Juhani Ilmoniemi
In this EBook, we highlight how newly emerging techniques for non-invasive manipulation of the human brain, combined with simultaneous recordings of neural activity, contribute to the understanding of brain functions and neural dynamics in humans. A growing body of evidence indicates that the neural dynamics (e.g., oscillations, synchrony) are important in mediating information processing and networking for various functions in the human brain. Most of previous studies on human brain dynamics, however, show correlative relationships between brain functions and patterns of neural dynamics measured by imaging methods such as electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In contrast, manipulative approaches by non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) have been developed and extensively used. These approaches include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial electric stimulation (tES) such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), alternating current stimulation (tACS), and random noise stimulation (tRNS), which can directly manipulate neural dynamics in the intact human brain. Although the neural-correlate approach is a strong tool, we think that manipulative approaches have far greater potential to show causal roles of neural dynamics in human brain functions. There have been technical challenges with using manipulative methods together with imaging methods. However, thanks to recent technical developments, it has become possible to use combined methods such as TMS–EEG coregistration. We can now directly measure and manipulate neural dynamics and analyze functional consequences to show causal roles of neural dynamics in various brain functions. Moreover, these combined methods can probe brain excitability, plasticity and cortical networking associated with information processing in the intact human brain. The contributors to this EBook have succeeded in showcasing cutting-edge studies and demonstrate the huge impact of their approaches on many areas in human neuroscience and clinical applications.