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Papers: 25 May 2024 - 31 May 2024

2024 May 23

Eur J Neurosci


Can non-invasive brain stimulation modulate peak alpha frequency in the human brain? A systematic review and meta-analysis.


Millard SK, Speis DB, Skippen P, Chiang AKI, Chang WJ, Lin AJ, Furman AJ, Mazaheri A, Seminowicz DA, Schabrun SM


Peak alpha frequency (PAF), the dominant oscillatory frequency within the alpha range (8-12 Hz), is associated with cognitive function and several neurological conditions, including chronic pain. Manipulating PAF could offer valuable insight into the relationship between PAF and various functions and conditions, potentially providing new treatment avenues. This systematic review aimed to comprehensively synthesise effects of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) on PAF speed. Relevant studies assessing PAF pre- and post-NIBS in healthy adults were identified through systematic searches of electronic databases (Embase, PubMed, PsychINFO, Scopus, The Cochrane Library) and trial registers. The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool was employed for assessing study quality. Quantitative analysis was conducted through pairwise meta-analysis when possible; otherwise, qualitative synthesis was performed. The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020190512) and the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/2yaxz/). Eleven NIBS studies were included, all with a low risk-of-bias, comprising seven transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), three repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and one transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) study. Meta-analysis of active tACS conditions (eight conditions from five studies) revealed no significant effects on PAF (mean difference [MD] = -0.12, 95% CI = -0.32 to 0.08, p = 0.24). Qualitative synthesis provided no evidence that tDCS altered PAF and moderate evidence for transient increases in PAF with 10 Hz rTMS. However, it is crucial to note that small sample sizes were used, there was substantial variation in stimulation protocols, and most studies did not specifically target PAF alteration. Further studies are needed to determine NIBS’s potential for modulating PAF.