Rhythmic brain activity (neural oscillations) may be a crucial part of how our brain processes sensory information, remembers and makes decisions. Nevertheless, there is relatively little evidence that demonstrates a causal rather than an epiphenomenal role for these oscillations. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) are two important methods for perturbing or enhancing neural oscillations so as to demonstrate a causal role of neural oscillations in perception and action. These techniques are developing rapidly and due to our limited understanding of the neural effects of these stimulation methods there remain controversies about how effective they are.
On 18th and 19th January 2018, Benedikt Zoefel and Matt Davis from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (MRC CBU), brought together 80 researchers from around the world to discuss and exchange ideas of how we can use brain stimulation to investigate the role of neural oscillations in the brain. Thanks to lively interactions and knowledgeable participants, this was a really positive and exciting meeting.
Plans have been formed for a second workshop in the near future, and a group of more than 25 labs have proposed to tackle a critical issue in the field: A “many-labs” experiment will be designed and run to assess the efficacy and replicability of TES findings.
The workshop was a great success and is a positive sign of rapid progress in brain stimulation research in Cambridge and elsewhere.