Using Direct Brain Stimulation to Study Cognitive Electrophysiology

Investigator Names 
Michael Kahana, University of Pennsylvania
Michael Kahana,
University of Pennsylvania








Joshua Jacobs, Columbia University
Joshua Aronson, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Robert Gross, Emory University Hospital
Andreas Schulze-Bonhage, University Medical Center Freiburg
Michael Sperling, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Bradley Lega, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Institutions University of Pennsylvania
Columbia University
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Emory University Hospital
University Medical Center Freiburg
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Grant support: NIH BRAIN, U01 NS 113198
Performance period  9/15/2019 – 6/30/2024


  • Using direct electrical stimulation to disentangle causal versus correlative biomarkers of verbal and spatial episodic memory
  • Understanding neuronal mechanisms underlying biomarkers of verbal and spatial episodic memory with single-neuron recordings
  • Developing and testing a predictive model of human brain dynamics in the presence of electrical stimulation

Study population and setting:

We study phamacoresistant epilepsy patients scheduled for a clinically indicated neurosurgical procedure to monitor seizure-generating foci with intraparenchymal electrodes. We administer computerized verbal and spatial memory tasks during inpatient intracranial EEG monitoring to identify the neural correlates of successful memory encoding, memory retrieval and reinstatement of previously encoded memories.  On some experimental sessions we also apply low-intensity, computer-controlled, electrical stimulation of targeted regions within the memory network.  Stimulating on some trials and not others, via a computerized algorithm, allows us to have a double-blinded control for the effects of stimulation on physiology and behavior.  These are basic experimental studies in humans aimed at understanding how electrical stimulation modifies brain circuits implicated in memory function.

Inclusion criteria:

  • Expected to undergo intracranial implantation and postoperative electroencephalographic monitoring as part of a standard clinical procedure for the treatment of pharmacologically resistant epilepsy
  • Age 18 or older

Exclusion criteria

  • Any physical or cognitive disability or illness that would limit their ability to perform cognitive tasks.
  • Any medical condition that would, in the investigator’s opinion, limit the subject’s participation in the study.
  • Unable or unwilling to provide informed consent
  • MRI contraindications

Data generated:

Intracranial electrophysiological recordings along with time-aligned stimulation and behavioral event data in free recall and spatial navigation experiments. These datasets are publicly available upon request through the lab’s portal or through OpenNeuro (see Resources).


Back to ROH Main Page

Table sorting checkbox