Project Description

Noninvasive Brain Stimulation

Berenson-Allen Center 

Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology and Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research at Harvard Medical School and Chief for the Division of Cognitive Neurology and the Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center points to regions of the brain targeted for therapy. On the right, a patient undergoes the non-invasive brain stimulation to specified areas.

Research at the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center aims at understanding the mechanisms that control brain plasticity across the life span to be able to modify them for the patient’s optimal behavioral outcome, prevent age-related cognitive decline, reduce the risk for dementia, and minimize the impact of neurodevelopmental disorders (

Dr. Pascual-Leone is a world leader in the field of noninvasive brain stimulation where his contributions span from technology development, through basic neurobiologic insights from animal studies and modeling approaches, to human proof-of-principle and multicenter clinical trials. His research has been fundamental in establishing the field of therapeutic brain stimulation. His work has provided evidence for the efficacy of noninvasive brain stimulation in treating various neurologic and psychiatric conditions, including epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson disease, chronic pain, autism, and drug-resistant depression.

NPR Interview

In this interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, Dr Pascual-Leone and one of his patients discuss the transcranial brain stimulation.


The Systems Neuroscience of Psychopathology Laboratory (SNPlab) at Harvard’s Department of Psychology applies a variety of imaging techniques, like PET and MRI, to identify the brain circuits involved in self-control, in order to understand the neurobiological mechanisms that lead to individual variability in impulsivity. The also use brain stimulation approaches such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to manipulate nodes within distributed brain circuits for self-control; the effects of these manipulations on the larger-scale circuits are read out using PET and fMRI.