Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 125–135 | Cite as

Using Animal Models to Improve the Design and Application of Transcranial Electrical Stimulation in Humans

  • Carlos A. Sánchez-León
  • Claudia Ammann
  • Javier F. Medina
  • Javier Márquez-RuizEmail author
Neuromodulation (C Stagg, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neuromodulation


Purpose of Review

Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) is a non-invasive stimulation technique used for modulating brain function in humans. To help tES reach its full therapeutic potential, it is necessary to address a number of critical gaps in our knowledge. Here, we review studies that have taken advantage of animal models to provide invaluable insight about the basic science behind tES.

Recent Findings

Animal studies are playing a key role in elucidating the mechanisms implicated in tES, defining safety limits, validating computational models, inspiring new stimulation protocols, enhancing brain function, and exploring new therapeutic applications.


Animal models provide a wealth of information that can facilitate the successful utilization of tES for clinical interventions in human subjects. To this end, tES experiments in animals should be carefully designed to maximize opportunities for applying discoveries to the treatment of human disease.


Transcranial electrical stimulation tDCS Brain stimulation Neuromodulation Animal models Plasticity 



Alternating current


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Direct current






Functional magnetic resonance imaging


Local field potential


Primary motor cortex


Metabotropic glutamate receptor 5


Magnetic resonance imaging




Primary somatosensory cortex


Transcranial alternating-current stimulation


Transcranial direct-current stimulation


Transcranial electrical stimulation


Transcranial random-noise stimulation



This work was supported by grants from the Spanish MINECO-FEDER (BFU2014–53820-P) to JMR and from the US National Institutes of Health (RF1 MH114269) to JFM and JMR. Dr. Sánchez León reports grants from FPU13/04858, during the conduct of the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as:• Of importance•• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos A. Sánchez-León
    • 1
  • Claudia Ammann
    • 2
  • Javier F. Medina
    • 3
  • Javier Márquez-Ruiz
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of NeurosciencesPablo de Olavide UniversitySevilleSpain
  2. 2.CINAC, University Hospital HM Puerta del Sur, CEU - San Pablo UniversityMadridSpain
  3. 3.Department of NeuroscienceBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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