Neurocognitive, physiological, and biophysical effects of transcranial alternating current stimulation

Miles Wischnewski, Ivan Alekseichuk, Alexander Opitz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) can modulate human neural activity and behavior. Accordingly, tACS has vast potential for cognitive research and brain disorder therapies. The stimulation generates oscillating electric fields in the brain that can bias neural spike timing, causing changes in local neural oscillatory power and cross-frequency and cross-area coherence. tACS affects cognitive performance by modulating underlying single or nested brain rhythms, local or distal synchronization, and metabolic activity. Clinically, stimulation tailored to abnormal neural oscillations shows promising results in alleviating psychiatric and neurological symptoms. We summarize the findings of tACS mechanisms, its use for cognitive applications, and novel developments for personalized stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-205
Number of pages17
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (young investigator grant to I.A.), the University of Minnesota MnDrive Initiative (M.W. and A.O.), and the National Institute of Mental Health (grants RF1MH124909 to A.O. and K99MH128454 to I.A.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • cognitive performance
  • neural oscillations
  • neuromodulation
  • non-invasive brain stimulation
  • transcranial alternating current stimulation
  • transcranial brain stimulation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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