Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation

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Frequently Asked Questions about Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation

What is TMS like and does it hurt?

Stimulation may cause muscle twitching of the scalp or face and may induce small movements in extremities. The stimulation you will recieve is usually not very uncomfortable and we will stop the treatment to reduce the strength of the stimulation if you are uncomfortable.

Are there any risks related to TMS?

TMS has been used safely in thousands of people around the world. However, there are risks associated with receiving TMS. The most serious of these is the potential to induce a seizure, even in subjects who have no prior predisposition to seizures. Although the risk of seizure induction or other adverse side effects are low, appropriate safety guidelines and precautions must be followed, and individuals administering TMS must be properly trained.

Subjects considering participation in a TMS study should know that there are medical conditions that may preclude them from receiving TMS. It is important to discuss these with investigators and to undergo proper screening prior to receiving TMS. To view our screening questionnaire, please click here: Screening form.

The long-term risk from TMS is unknown. However, no long-lasting effects of the stimulation, including in those who had seizures, have been reported. Given the safety parameters we will be using, we do not anticipate any adverse short-term changes in cognition.

Our TMS studies will be carried out under supervision of a neurologist who is experienced with the technique of magnetic stimulation.

What are the side effects of TMS?

The most common side effect of TMS is a headache or temporary neck pain. This occurs in approximately 10% of people and has always gone away promptly with nonprescription pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol).

TMS has also caused temporary decreases in hearing. Therefore, we will ask you to wear foam earplugs during stimulation.

What does tDCS feel like?

Reports of sensations during tDCS are variable. However, some participants have reported itching or tingling sensations at the site of stimulation. tDCS has a low risk of adverse events.

How long does the testing take?

The testing time varies with each study, but generally a single visit takes under 2 hours. Some studies may involve multiple study visits.

Will I get compensated?

Yes, participants will be compensated for their time and travel. Compensation may vary depending on duration and type of stimulation.

What do I have to do to participate?

See our participation page for more details. We will contact you once this is complete. Many of the TMS studies require that subjects have MRIs, and so we may ask that you participate in an MRI study first. tDCS participants do not need to have MRIs.