About this Research Topic
"Direct stimulation of the brain is considered a crude method for the exploration of cerebral functions, and the understanding of the results is limited” (Delgado, 1964).
Sixty years after this statement, things are clearing changing: a number of safe, non-invasive and informative methods for brain stimulation are available and widely used. The brain modulation techniques may be globally labelled tES (transcranial electric stimulation) and include transcranial direct current stimulation (dTCS), transcranial alternate current stimulation (tACS), and, due to the way it induces changes in the brain, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
The use of tES has recently exploded. Certainly, one reason for this explosion of research is that it is a cheap way to change behavior. However, on the other hand we still know very little about the neural mechanisms that underlie tES. Aside from the neurobiological mechanisms, issues regarding ethics, proper dosage, and long-term safety are critical future directions.
In the last decades, numerous studies have used tES with a wide scope. Besides studies aimed at discovering neural correlates of cognitive tasks, an abundant literature addressed the potentiality of tES in behavior change: Psychiatric symptoms, neurological rehabilitation, reading abilities, motor abilities, decision making, moral decisions and that like. Furthermore, some studies have already addressed the possible use of tES in modulating conscious experience. Thus, tES use might be able to supplant the consumption of a pill, to be taken following a given protocol to treat a number of symptoms (as a pharmaceutical treatment), to improve performances (as a sort of doping) or to modulate the subjective experience (as a psychotropic drug). Further than individual consequences, these applications will also have a deep social impact.
The aim of the present Research Topic is to try addressing such questions by focusing on the possible applications of tES, both in patients and healthy population, and covering all the life span, from children to elderly. The basic idea is to boost an interdisciplinary approach to the matter, since only a significant cross-fertilization between disciplines is able to move these techniques from labs to real life contexts. We welcome papers critically evaluating the existing protocol of brain stimulation, addressing the neurobiological and physical mechanisms as well as methodological and ethical considerations. Scientists from different fields – including neurobiology, psychology, cognitive science, social sciences and philosophy, are welcome. The work can be experimental, methodological or computational. Reviews and papers on philosophical and ethical issues are also welcome.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.