New Paper: Methods for Specific Electrode Resistance Measurement During Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Khadka N, Rahman A, Sarantos C, Truong DQ, Bikson M
Download: PDF Published in Brain Stimulation DOI 


Background: Monitoring of electrode resistance during tDCS is considered important for tolerability and safety. Conventional resistance measurement methods do not isolate individual electrode resistance and for HD-tDCS devices, cross talk across electrodes makes concurrent resistance monitoring unreliable. Objective: We propose a novel method to monitor individual electrode resistance during tDCS, using a super-position of direct current with a test-signal (low intensity and low frequency sinusoids with electrodeespecific frequencies) and a sentinel electrode (not used for DC).

Methods: We developed and solved lumped-parameter models of tDCS electrodes with or without a sentinel electrode to validate this methodology. Assumptions were tested and parameterized in partic- ipants using forearm stimulation combining tDCS (2 mA) and test-signals (38 and 76 mA pk-pk at 1 Hz, 10 Hz, & 100 Hz) and an in vitro test (creating electrode failure modes). DC and AC component voltages across the electrodes were compared and participants were asked to rate subjective pain.

Results: A sentinel electrode is required to isolate electrode resistance in a two-electrode tDCS system. Cross talk aggravated with electrode proximity and resistance mismatch in multi-electrode resistance tracking could be corrected using proposed approaches. Average voltage and pain scores were not significantly different across test current intensities and frequencies.

Conclusion: Using our developed method, a test signal can predict DC electrode resistance. Since unique test frequencies can be used at each tDCS electrode, specific electrode resistance can be resolved for any number of stimulating channels – a process made still more robust by the use of a sentinel electrode.

Neural Engineering