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


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. 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. 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. By characterizing how different stimulation parameters produced specific neuronal activity patterns on a large scale, our results help guide clinicians and researchers when designing stimulation protocols to cause precisely targeted changes in human brain activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Aug 28 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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