Designing and comparing cleaning pipelines for TMS-EEG data: A theoretical overview and practical example

Nigel C. Rogasch*, Mana Biabani, Tuomas P. Mutanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with electroencephalography (EEG) is growing in popularity as a method for probing the reactivity and connectivity of neural circuits in basic and clinical research. However, using EEG to measure the neural responses to TMS is challenging due to the unique artifacts introduced by combining the two techniques. In this paper, we overview the artifacts present in TMS-EEG data and the offline cleaning methods used to suppress these unwanted signals. We then describe how open science practices, including the development of open-source toolboxes designed for TMS-EEG analysis (e.g., TESA - the TMS-EEG signal analyser), have improved the availability and reproducibility of TMS-EEG cleaning methods. We provide theoretical and practical considerations for designing TMS-EEG cleaning pipelines and then give an example of how to compare different pipelines using TESA. We show that changing even a single step in a pipeline designed to suppress decay artifacts results in TMS-evoked potentials (TEPs) with small differences in amplitude and spatial topography. The variability in TEPs resulting from the choice of cleaning pipeline has important implications for comparing TMS-EEG findings between research groups which use different online and offline approaches. Finally, we discuss the challenges of validating cleaning pipelines and recommend that researchers compare outcomes from TMS-EEG experiments using multiple pipelines to ensure findings are not related to the choice of cleaning methods. We conclude that the continued improvement, availability, and validation of cleaning pipelines is essential to ensure TMS-EEG reaches its full potential as a method for studying human neurophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109494
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Artifacts
  • Cleaning
  • EEG
  • Electroencephalography
  • ICA
  • Pipelines
  • TEPs
  • TMS
  • TMS-evoked potentials
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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