EEG alpha activity increased in response to transcutaneous electrical nervous stimulation in young healthy subjects but not in the healthy elderly


PeerJ, vol.2020, no.1, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 2020 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.7717/peerj.8330
  • Journal Name: PeerJ
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Pain, TENS, EEG, FFT, Alpha
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is used not only in the treatment of pain but also in the examination of sensory functions. With aging, there is decreased sensitivity to somatosensory stimuli. It is essential to examine the effect of TENS application on the sensory functions in the brain by recording the spontaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) activity and the effect of aging on the sensory functions of the brain during the application. The present study aimed to investigate the effect of the application of TENS on the brain's electrical activity and the effect of aging on the sensory functions of the brain during application of TENS. A total of 15 young (24.2 ± 3.59) and 14 elderly (65.64 ± 4.92) subjects were included in the study. Spontaneous EEG was recorded from 32 channels during TENS application. Power spectrum analysis was performed by Fast Fourier Transform in the alpha frequency band (8-13 Hz) for all subjects. Repeated measures of analysis of variance was used for statistical analysis (p < 0.05). Young subjects had increased alpha power during the TENS application and had gradually increased alpha power by increasing the current intensity of TENS (p = 0.035). Young subjects had higher alpha power than elderly subjects in the occipital and parietal locations (p = 0.073). We can, therefore, conclude that TENS indicated increased alpha activity in young subjects. Young subjects had higher alpha activity than elderly subjects in the occipital and somatosensory areas. To our knowledge, the present study is one of the first studies examining the effect of TENS on spontaneous EEG in healthy subjects. Based on the results of the present study, TENS may be used as an objective method for the examination of sensory impairments, and in the evaluative efficiency of the treatment of pain conditions.