Multi-locus transcranial magnetic stimulation—theory and implementation

Lari M. Koponen, Jaakko O. Nieminen*, Risto J. Ilmoniemi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
209 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation method: a magnetic field pulse from a TMS coil can excite neurons in a desired location of the cortex. Conventional TMS coils cause focal stimulation underneath the coil centre; to change the location of the stimulated spot, the coil must be moved over the new target. This physical movement is inherently slow, which limits, for example, feedback-controlled stimulation. Objective: To overcome the limitations of physical TMS-coil movement by introducing electronic targeting. Methods: We propose electronic stimulation targeting using a set of large overlapping coils and introduce a matrix-factorisation-based method to design such sets of coils. We built one such device and demonstrated the electronic stimulation targeting in vivo. Results: The demonstrated two-coil transducer allows translating the stimulated spot along a 30-mm-long line segment in the cortex; with five coils, a target can be selected from within a region of the cortex and stimulated in any direction. Thus, far fewer coils are required by our approach than by previously suggested ones, none of which have resulted in practical devices. Conclusion: Already with two coils, we can adjust the location of the induced electric field maximum along one dimension, which is sufficient to study, for example, the primary motor cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-855
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number4
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Coil design
  • Electric field
  • Instrumentation
  • Multi-channel TMS
  • Multi-locus TMS
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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