Despite being the object of a thriving field of clinical research, the investigation of intrinsic brain network alterations in psychiatric illnesses is still in its early days. Because the pathological alterations are predominantly probed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), many questions about the electrophysiological bases of resting-state alterations in psychiatric disorders, particularly among mood disorder patients, remain unanswered. Alongside important research using electroencephalography (EEG), the specific recent contributions and future promise of magnetoencephalography (MEG) in this field are not fully recognized and valued. Here, we provide a critical review of recent findings from MEG resting-state connectivity within major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). The clinical MEG resting-state results are compared with those previously reported with fMRI and EEG. Taken together, MEG appears to be a promising but still critically underexploited technique to unravel the neurophysiological mechanisms that mediate abnormal (both hyper- and hypo-) connectivity patterns involved in MDD and BD. In particular, a major strength of MEG is its ability to provide source-space estimations of neuromagnetic long-range rhythmic synchronization at various frequencies (i.e., oscillatory coupling). The reviewed literature highlights the relevance of probing local and interregional rhythmic synchronization to explore the pathophysiological underpinnings of each disorder. However, before we can fully take advantage of MEG connectivity analyses in psychiatry, several limitations inherent to MEG connectivity analyses need to be understood and taken into account. Thus, we also discuss current methodological challenges and outline paths for future research. MEG resting-state studies provide an important window onto perturbed spontaneous oscillatory brain networks and hence supply an important complement to fMRI-based resting-state measurements in psychiatric populations.
The problem of functional localization in the brain is one of the most fundamental in neuroscience. For this problem two opposite ideologies: "modular" versus "holistic" nature of the brain also known as "localism" and "holism" have been discussed for a long time (Flourens 1825; Luria 1967). The debate in favor of one or another ideology still can be traced at all methodological levels - from a cell to a system. In this opinion paper we want to raise a question - what is nowadays meant by mapping of the brain? In addition we want to highlight the necessity of being aware of occasionally occurring discontinuity in the research at different methodological scales.
While polarity-specific after-effects of monopolar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on corticospinal excitability are well-documented, modulation of vital parameters due to current spread through the brainstem is still a matter of debate, raising potential concerns about its use through the general public, as well as for neurorehabilitation purposes. We monitored online and after-effects of monopolar tDCS (primary motor cortex) in 10 healthy subjects by adopting a neuronavigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)/tDCS combined protocol. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) together with vital parameters [e.g., blood pressure, heart-rate variability (HRV), and sympathovagal balance] were recorded and monitored before, during, and after anodal, cathodal, or sham tDCS. Ten MEPs, every 2.5-min time windows, were recorded from the right first dorsal interosseous (FDI), while 5-min epochs were used to record vital parameters. The protocol included 15 min of pre-tDCS and of online tDCS (anodal, cathodal, or sham). After-effects were recorded for 30 min. We showed a polarity-independent stabilization of cortical excitability level, a polarity-specific after-effect for cathodal and anodal stimulation, and an absence of persistent excitability changes during online stimulation. No significant effects on vital parameters emerged both during and after tDCS, while a linear increase in systolic/diastolic blood pressure and HRV was observed during each tDCS condition, as a possible unspecific response to experimental demands. Taken together, current findings provide new insights on the safety of monopolar tDCS, promoting its application both in research and clinical settings.