Bioelectromagnetism in Human Brain Research: New Applications, New Questions [Review]

SOURCE: Neuroscientist. 29(1):62-77, 2023 Feb.

AUTHORS: Gross J; Junghofer M; Wolters C

ABSTRACT: Bioelectromagnetism has contributed some of the most commonly used techniques to human neuroscience such as magnetoencephalography (MEG), electroencephalography (EEG), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and transcranial electric stimulation (TES). The considerable differences in their technical design and practical use give rise to the impression that these are quite different techniques altogether. Here, we review, discuss and illustrate the fundamental principle of Helmholtz reciprocity that provides a common ground for all four techniques. We show that, more than 150 years after its discovery by Helmholtz in 1853, reciprocity is important to appreciate the strengths and limitations of these four classical tools in neuroscience. We build this case by explaining the concept of Helmholtz reciprocity, presenting a methodological account of this principle for all four methods and, finally, by illustrating its application in practical clinical studies.