The effects of direct brain stimulation in humans depend on frequency, amplitude, and white-matter proximity

Uma R. Mohan, Andrew J. Watrous, Jonathan F. Miller, Bradley C. Lega, Michael R. Sperling, Gregory A. Worrell, Robert E. Gross, Kareem A. Zaghloul, Barbara C. Jobst, Kathryn A. Davis, Sameer A. Sheth, Joel M. Stein, Sandhitsu R. Das, Richard Gorniak, Paul A. Wanda, Daniel S. Rizzuto, Michael J. Kahana, Joshua Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Researchers have used direct electrical brain stimulation to treat a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders. However, for brain stimulation to be maximally effective, clinicians and researchers should optimize stimulation parameters according to desired outcomes. Objective: The goal of our large-scale study was to comprehensively evaluate the effects of stimulation at different parameters and locations on neuronal activity across the human brain. Methods: To examine how different kinds of stimulation affect human brain activity, we compared the changes in neuronal activity that resulted from stimulation at a range of frequencies, amplitudes, and locations with direct human brain recordings. We recorded human brain activity directly with electrodes that were implanted in widespread regions across 106 neurosurgical epilepsy patients while systematically stimulating across a range of parameters and locations. Results: Overall, stimulation most often had an inhibitory effect on neuronal activity, consistent with earlier work. When stimulation excited neuronal activity, it most often occurred from high-frequency stimulation. These effects were modulated by the location of the stimulating electrode, with stimulation sites near white matter more likely to cause excitation and sites near gray matter more likely to inhibit neuronal activity. Conclusion: By characterizing how different stimulation parameters produced specific neuronal activity patterns on a large scale, our results provide an electrophysiological framework that clinicians and researchers may consider when designing stimulation protocols to cause precisely targeted changes in human brain activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1183-1195
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Direct brain stimulation
  • Intracranial EEG
  • Stimulation current
  • Stimulation frequency
  • Stimulation parameter space
  • Stimulation protocol design
  • White-matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The effects of direct brain stimulation in humans depend on frequency, amplitude, and white-matter proximity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this