OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a modified electrode montage with respect to its effect on tACS-dependent modulation of corticospinal excitability and discomfort caused by neurosensory side effects accompanying stimulation.
METHODS: In a double-blind cross-over design, the classical electrode montage for primary motor cortex (M1) stimulation (two patch electrodes over M1 and contralateral supraorbital area) was compared with an M1 centre-ring montage. Corticospinal excitability was evaluated before, during, immediately after and 15 minutes after tACS (10 min., 20 Hz vs. 30 s low-frequency transcranial random noise stimulation).
RESULTS: Corticospinal excitability increased significantly during and immediately after tACS with the centre-ring montage. This was not the case with the classical montage or tRNS stimulation. Level of discomfort was rated on average lower with the centre-ring montage.
CONCLUSIONS: In comparison to the classic montage, the M1 centre-ring montage enables a more focal stimulation of the target area and, at the same time, significantly reduces neurosensory side effects, essential for placebo-controlled study designs.