Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

TMS group conducts research on three interconnected areas: the group carries out neurophysiological experiments and develops methods for TMS–EEG signal analysis as well as instrumentation for TMS.
ConnecToBrain project, illustration by Otto Olavinen

Description of the research

We develop new technology for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to improve targeting accuracy, pulse-shape control, and closed-loop target and timing adjustment based on real-time feedback, e.g., from electroencephalography (EEG) or electromyography (EMG) measurements.

We have pioneered multi-locus TMS (mTMS), in which a set of coils allows rapid electronic stimulation targeting without transducer movement (Koponen et al. 2018). We are pushing the boundaries and aim to integrate our mTMS technology into a 3-tesla human magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner at Aalto University and into a small-animal 9.4-tesla MRI device at the University of Eastern Finland ( Our endeavour builds on our recently established understanding on how to design energy-efficient, optimized TMS coils (Koponen et al. 2015, 2017, 2018).

Combined TMS–EEG provides a valuable tool for probing the excitability and connectivity in the brain. For interpreting the recorded data, we develop advanced signal processing techniques for several applications of EEG analysis: artefact rejection (Mutanen et al. 2016, 2018), source localization (Mäkelä et al. 2018), blind source separation (Metsomaa et al. 2017), and connectivity analysis. Artefact rejection is of special interest since TMS-induced artefacts are a great challenge when interpreting EEG data. We use a wide range of tools, from classical deterministic methods to Bayesian inference as well as from physical model-based analysis to fully data-driven approaches.

TMS is used in clinically in diagnostics and therapy. Navigated TMS is nowadays the most accurate noninvasive method to locate brain areas responsible for movement production and is used to locate eloquent cortex preoperatively in brain tumour and epilepsy patients waiting for surgical treatment. Repetitive TMS, on the other hand, is used in the treatment of depression, neuropathic pain, tinnitus, and stroke. We conduct neurophysiological experiments, usually by combining TMS with EEG, EMG, or speech recordings, on healthy subjects and patients to improve the understanding of brain functioning and to develop new paradigms. We develop technology and methods that provide enhanced means for neuroscience as well as for clinical diagnostics and treatment.

Science Factory: TMS-EEG Summer School and Workshop

The TMS group organizes annually a learning event titled Science Factory: TMS–EEG Summer School and Workshop in Espoo, Finland. With our Science Factories, we aim at enhancing the interaction and discussion within the international TMS–EEG community.

During the intensive week, top-notch experts and beginners in the field share their ideas and learn from each other. Various learning methods, for example, lectures, whiteboard discussions, small-group work, live programming, and science pitching are used. In addition, numerous hands-on sessions for experiments and data analysis are organized to obtain comprehensive TMS–EEG experience and to train well-rounded young researchers.

Previous Science Factories:

9th Science Factory: TMS-EEG Summer School and Workshop (2023)

8th Science Factory: TMS-EEG Summer School and Workshop (2022)

7th Science Factory: TMS-EEG Summer School and Workshop (2019)

6th Science Factory: TMS-EEG Summer School and Workshop (2018)

5th Science Factory: TMS-EEG Summer School and Workshop (2017)

4th Science Factory: TMS–EEG Summer School (2016)

3rd Science Factory: TMS–EEG Summer School (2015)

2nd TMS–EEG Summer School: Probing Brain Dynamics (Science Factory, 2014)

Coupling to the dynamics of the human brain with TMS–EEG (Science Factory, 2013)


To succeed, this project will pull together skills and expertise from many fields. Pantelis Lioumis (from left), Matilda Makkonen, Ana Maria Soto and Tuomas Mutanen demonstrating the use of the new TMS device. Photo: Mikko Raskinen.

Researchers at Aalto develop a new technology to let immobilized patients control devices with their brain

A new project at Aalto University is developing techniques that will enable immobilized patients to control devices using their brain activity. The project builds on the multi-locus transcranial magnetic stimulation (mTMS) technology developed at Aalto, adapting it into a brain–computer interface (BCI) that can help patients with neurological conditions.

Mies on selkä päin kameraa, katsoo tietokoneelta kuvaa aivoista.

Playing with the music of the brain

Common neurological disorders like depression and chronic pain can be challenging to treat with conventional methods. An automated version of a long-used brain stimulation technique holds real promise as a reliable and effective drug-free alternative.

Joonas Laurinoja, Ida Granö and Victor Hugo Souza. Photo: Mikko Raskinen.

Magnetic brain stimulation can help patients with depression and pain

Clinicians and researchers have long used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat and study chronic pain and severe depression. A new technology, multi-locus TMS (mTMS), will improve the approach by utilizing the novel design of magnetic transducers allowing for electronic control of all stimulation parameters – location, intensity and the orientation of the induced electric field – assisted by a robot to redirect stimulation from one part of the brain to another in just a fraction of a second.

Prototype for new method of delivering transcranial magnetic stimulation

Algorithm marks the spot: making brain stimulation more reliable

Method uses brain activity feedback to automate widely used manual technique

Aalto Distinguished Professor Risto Ilmoniemi. Photo: Mikko Raskinen

Aalto Distinguished Professor Risto Ilmoniemi and his team are developing a new kind of brain stimulator

In the future, artificial intelligence-enabled “self-driving” brain stimulators can ameliorate the condition of millions of patients suffering from brain disorders, says Professor of Applied Physics Risto Ilmoniemi. He also thinks that his best research results may still be in the future.

ConnectToBrain mTMS / Northbay Oy

Researchers preparing a new type of brain-stimulation therapy for clinical use

Patients with severe depression, chronic pain, or stroke could benefit from multi-locus TMS. The new project will try to make it cost effective and simple

Kuva: BrainSTIM-konferenssistudio.

Online version of neuroscience conference a great success

Presentations at the BrainSTIM 2020 conference were high quality, and the mood was kept light by the conference studio, a cake challenge and break-time workouts.

ConnectToBrain mTMS / Northbay Oy

ERC Synergy Grant worth €10M will help develop new techniques for brain research, disease diagnostics, and patient care

ERC Synergy Grant worth €10M will help develop new techniques for brain research, disease diagnostics, and patient care

Preliminary scheme of the future TMS device. Picture: Northbay, Helsinki.

One million euro for research on electromagnetic brain stimulation

The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation has awarded a grant for a joint project developed by Aalto University and the University of Eastern Finland.


TMS revealed differences between brain activity of people who dream and people who do not dream

Assessment of consciousness may help in treatment of brain injury patients.

Risto Ilmoniemi is one of the original developers of NBS technique. Equipment that utilises navigated brain stimulation is used in the BioMag Laboratory in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.

Neurotechnology can benefit millions

Brain stimulation technology with its roots in Otaniemi is used as an aid in neurosurgery all over the world.

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