Atlas of optimal coil orientation and position for TMS: A computational study

Jose Gomez-Tames*, Atsushi Hamasaka, Ilkka Laakso, Akimasa Hirata, Yoshikazu Ugawa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) activates target brain structures in a non-invasive manner. The optimal orientation of the TMS coil for the motor cortex is well known and can be estimated using motor evoked potentials. However, there are no easily measurable responses for activation of other cortical areas and the optimal orientation for these areas is currently unknown. Objective: This study investigated the electric field strength, optimal coil orientation, and relative locations to optimally stimulate the target cortex based on computed electric field distributions. Methods: A total of 518,616 stimulation scenarios were studied using realistic head models (2401 coil locations × 12 coil angles × 18 head models). Inter-subject registration methods were used to generate an atlas of optimized TMS coil orientations on locations on the standard brain. Results: We found that the maximum electric field strength is greater in primary somatosensory cortex and primary motor cortex than in other cortical areas. Additionally, a universal optimal coil orientation applicable to most subjects is more feasible at the primary somatosensory cortex and primary motor cortex. We confirmed that optimal coil angle follows the anatomical shape of the hand motor area to realize personalized optimization of TMS. Finally, on average, the optimal coil positions for TMS on the scalp deviated 5.5 mm from the scalp points with minimum cortex-scalp distance. This deviation was minimal at the premotor cortex and primary motor cortex. Conclusion: Personalized optimal coil orientation is preferable for obtaining the most effective stimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-848
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number4
Early online date1 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Brain atlas
  • Optimization of coil orientation
  • Personalized stimulation
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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