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Axel Thielscher



+45 3862 3326


Professor, Senior Researcher


Technical University of Denmark

Research Interests

My vision is to transform transcranial brain stimulation (TBS) into an effective medical treatment by personalizing established TBS methods and introducing novel TBS approaches with complementary application profiles. In addition, I aim to provide basic neuroscience research with precise interventional tools to demonstrate causally the link from brain activity to behaviour. My research interests revolve around interfacing engineering with neuroscience research and applications. This includes the integration of brain stimulation with brain imaging modalities as well as computational dosimetry methods for brain stimulation.

I have focused my research on testing the mechanisms of action of TBS and on identifying the factors that cause variability in the stimulation outcome and hamper the clinical efficacy of TBS. My results show that the physical TBS fields strongly depend on the individual anatomy, making an intuitive targeting and dose control impossible and suggesting the need for advanced dosing approaches. In addition, I use neuroimaging to shed light on the stimulation effects at the brain network level and to characterize how the neural TBS effects depend on the physical TBS fields and the brain state.

I aim to translate the results from my basic research to clinical TBS applications by providing experimenters, engineers and clinicians worldwide with validated and useful methods and tools for the personalization of TBS. I am heading the SimNIBS project (Simulation of Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation) that developed the first open-source software pipeline for individualized FEM calculations for brain stimulation based on MR images, and that is now widely used in the field.
Please visit the homepage of my Neurophysics group for an overview of our research projects.

Research Groups

Research area "Precision Brain Stimulation" (Coordinator)
Neurophysics (Group Leader)

Curriculum Vitae



Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering


Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences


Degree in Electrical Engineering


2021 - Present

Professor of Neurophysics and Neuroimaging, Department of Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark

2012 - Present

Senior Researcher, DRCMR

2012 - 2021

Associate Professor, Department of Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark

2008 - 2016

Project Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tubingen, Germany

2008 - 2011

Faculty member, Max Planck Graduate School, Tübingen, Germany

2005 - 2008

Research Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cynernetics, Tübingen, Germany

2004 - 2005

Postdoctoral Researcher, Dept. of Psychology, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA

1999 - 2004

Research Assistant, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Ulm

Full CV


Gregersen, F., Göksu, C., Schaefers, G., Xue, R., Hanson, L. G., & Thielscher A., Safety evaluation of a new setup for Transcranial Electric Stimulation during Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Brain Stimulation, accepted. 2021.

Boayue, N. M., Csifcsák, G., Aslaksen, P., Turi, Z., Antal, A., Groot, J., Hawkins, G. E., Forstmann, B., Opitz, A., Thielscher, A. & Mittner, M.
Increasing propensity to mind-wander by transcranial direct current stimulation? A registered report. European Journal of Neuroscience. p. 1-26. 2020.
WebSearch |

Bungert, A., Antunes, A., Espenhahn, S. & Thielscher, A.
Where does TMS Stimulate the Motor Cortex? Combining Electrophysiological Measurements and Realistic Field Estimates to Reveal the Affected Cortex Position. Cerebral Cortex. 2020.
WebSearch |

Weise, K., Numssen, O., Thielscher, A., Hartwigsen, G. & Knösche, T. R.
A novel approach to localize cortical TMS effects. NeuroImage. 116486. 2020.
WebSearch |

Antonenko, D., Thielscher, A., Saturnino, G. B., Aydin, S., Ittermann, B., Grittner, U. & Flöel, A.
Towards precise brain stimulation: Is electric field simulation related to neuromodulation?
Brain Stimulation. 12, 5, p. 1159-1168, 2019.
WebSearch |

Conde, V., Tomasevic, L., Akopian, I., Stanek, K., Saturnino, G. B., Thielscher, A., Bergmann, T. O. & Siebner, H. R.
The non-transcranial TMS-evoked potential is an inherent source of ambiguity in TMS-EEG studies. NeuroImage. 185, p. 300-312, 2019.
WebSearch |

Eschelbach, M., Aghaeifar, A., Bause, J., Handwerker, J., Anders, J., Engel, E-M., Thielscher, A. & Scheffler, K.
Comparison of prospective head motion correction with NMR field probes and an optical tracking system. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 81, 1, p. 719-729, 2019.
WebSearch |

Göksu, C., Scheffler, K., Siebner, H. R., Thielscher, A. & Hanson, L. G.
The stray magnetic fields in Magnetic Resonance Current Density Imaging (MRCDI).
Physica Medica. 59, p. 142-150, 2019.
WebSearch |

Karabanov, A. N., Saturnino, G. B., Thielscher, A. & Siebner, H. R.
Can Transcranial Electrical Stimulation Localize Brain Function? Frontiers in Psychology. 10, p. 1-12, 213. 2019.
WebSearch |

Kim, H., Kim, S., Sim, N. S., Pasquinelli, C., Thielscher, A., Lee, J. H. & Lee, H. J.
Miniature ultrasound ring array transducers for transcranial ultrasound neuromodulation of freely-moving small animals. Brain Stimulation. 12, 2, p. 251-255, 2019.
WebSearch |

Pasquinelli, C., Hanson, L. G., Siebner, H. R., Lee, H. J. & Thielscher, A.
Safety of transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation: A systematic review of the state of knowledge from both human and animal studies. Brain Stimulation. 12, 6, p. 1367-1380, 2019.
WebSearch |

Puonti, O., Saturnino, G. B., Madsen, K. H. & Thielscher, A.
Value and limitations of intracranial recordings for validating electric field modeling for transcranial brain stimulation. NeuroImage. 208, p. 1-14, 116431. 2019.
WebSearch |

Saturnino, G. B., Madsen, K. H. & Thielscher, A.
Electric field simulations for transcranial brain stimulation using FEM: an efficient implementation and error analysis. Journal of Neural Engineering. 16, 6, 27 p., 066032. 2019.
WebSearch |

Saturnino, G. B., Siebner, H. R., Thielscher, A. & Madsen, K. H.
Accessibility of cortical regions to focal TES: Dependence on spatial position, safety, and practical constraints. NeuroImage. 203, p. 1-17, 116183. 2019.
WebSearch |

Saturnino, G. B., Thielscher, A., Madsen, K. H., Knösche, T. R. & Weise, K.
A principled approach to conductivity uncertainty analysis in electric field calculations.
NeuroImage. 188, p. 821-834, 2019.
WebSearch |

Siebner, H. R., Conde, V., Tomasevic, L., Thielscher, A. & Bergmann, T. O.
Distilling the essence of TMS-evoked EEG potentials (TEPs): A call for securing mechanistic specificity and experimental rigor. Brain Stimulation. 12, 4, p. 1051-1054, 2019.
WebSearch |

Turi, Z., Csifcsák, G., Boayue, N. M., Aslaksen, P., Antal, A., Paulus, W., Groot, J., Hawkins, G. E., Forstmann, B., Opitz, A., Thielscher, A. & Mittner, M.
Blinding is compromised for transcranial direct current stimulation at 1 mA for 20 minutes in young healthy adults. European Journal of Neuroscience. 50, 8, p. 3261-3268, 2019.
WebSearch |

Csifcsák, G., Boayue, N. M., Puonti, O., Thielscher, A. & Mittner, M.
Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation for treating depression: A modeling study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 28, 234, p. 164-173, 2018.

Göksu, C., Hanson, L. G., Siebner, H. R., Ehses, P., Scheffler, K. & Thielscher, A.
Human in-vivo brain magnetic resonance current density imaging (MRCDI).
NeuroImage. 171, p. 26-39, 2018.

Göksu, C., Scheffler, K., Ehses, P., Hanson, L. G. & Thielscher, A.
Sensitivity analysis of magnetic field measurements for magnetic resonance electrical impedance tomography (MREIT).
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 79, p. 748-760, 2018.

Karadas, M., Wojciechowski, A. M., Huck, A., Dalby, N. O., Andersen, U. L. & Thielscher, A.
Feasibility and resolution limits of opto-magnetic imaging of neural network activity in brain slices using color centers in diamond.
Scientific Reports. 8, 4503 2018.

Bungert, A., Antunes, A., Espenhahn, S. & Thielscher, A.
Where does TMS Stimulate the Motor Cortex? Combining Electrophysiological Measurements and Realistic Field Estimates to Reveal the Affected Cortex Position.
Cerebral Cortex. 2018.

Nielsen, J. D., Madsen, K. H., Puonti, O., Siebner, H. R., Bauer, C., Madsen, C. G., Saturnino, G. B. & Thielscher, A.
Automatic skull segmentation from MR images for realistic volume conductor models of the head: Assessment of the state-of-the-art.
NeuroImage. 2018.

Dubbioso, R., Raffin, E., Karabanov, A., Thielscher, A. & Siebner, H. R.
Centre-surround organization of fast sensorimotor integration in human motor hand area.
NeuroImage. 158, p. 37-47, 2017.

Korshoej, A. R., Hansen, F. L., Thielscher, A., von Oettingen, G. B. & Sørensen, J. C. H.
Impact of tumor position, conductivity distribution and tissue homogeneity on the distribution of tumor treating fields in a human brain: A computer modeling study.
P L o S One. 12, 6, p. 1-12, e0179214 2017.

Leitão, J., Thielscher, A., Lee, H. L., Tuennerhoff, J. & Noppeney, U.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation of right inferior parietal cortex causally influences prefrontal activation for visual detection.
European Journal of Neuroscience. 46, 12, p. 2807-2816, 2017.

Leitão, J., Thielscher, A., Tuennerhoff, J. & Noppeney, U.
Comparing TMS perturbations to occipital and parietal cortices in concurrent TMS-fMRI studies-Methodological considerations.
P L o S One. 12, 8, p. 1-20, e0181438 2017.

Minjoli, S., Saturnino, G. B., Blicher, J. U., Stagg, C. J., Siebner, H. R., Antunes, A. & Thielscher, A.
The impact of large structural brain changes in chronic stroke patients on the electric field caused by transcranial brain stimulation.
NeuroImage. Clinical. 15, p. 106-117, 2017.

Saturnino, G. B., Madsen, K. H., Siebner, H. R. & Thielscher, A.
How to target inter-regional phase synchronization with dual-site Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation.
NeuroImage. 163, p. 68-80, 2017.

Göksu, C., Hanson, L. G., Ehses, P., Scheffler, K. & Thielscher, A.
Human In-vivo MR Current Density Imaging (MRCDI) Based on Optimized Multi-echo Spin Echo (MESE).

Bergmann, T. O., Karabanov, A., Hartwigsen, G., Thielscher, A. & Siebner, H. R.
Combining non-invasive transcranial brain stimulation with neuroimaging and electrophysiology: Current approaches and future perspectives.
NeuroImage. 140, p. 4-19, 2016.

Heise, K-F., Kortzorg, N., Saturnino, G. B., Fujiyama, H., Cuypers, K., Thielscher, A. & Swinnen, S. P.
Evaluation of a Modified High-Definition Electrode Montage for Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) of Pre-Central Areas.
Brain Stimulation. 9, 5, p. 700-704, 2016.

Karabanov, A., Thielscher, A. & Siebner, H. R.
Transcranial brain stimulation: closing the loop between brain and stimulation.
Current Opinion in Neurology. 29, 4, p. 397-404, 2016.

Korshoej, A. R., Bicalho Saturnino, G., Rasmussen, L. K., von Oettingen, G., Sørensen, J. C. H. & Thielscher, A.
Enhancing Predicted Efficacy of Tumor Treating Fields Therapy of Glioblastoma Using Targeted Surgical Craniectomy: A Computer Modeling Study.
P L o S One. 11, 10, s. e0164051 26 p., 2016.

Opitz, A., Falchier, A., Yan, C-G., Yeagle, E. M., Linn, G. S., Megevand, P., Thielscher, A., Deborah A, R., Milham, M. P., Mehta, A. D. & Schroeder, C. E.
Spatiotemporal structure of intracranial electric fields induced by transcranial electric stimulation in humans and nonhuman primates.
Scientific Reports. 6 2016.

Reichenbach, A., Bresciani, J-P., Bülthoff, H. H. & Thielscher, A.
Reaching with the sixth sense: Vestibular contributions to voluntary motor control in the human right parietal cortex.
NeuroImage. 124, p. 869-875, 2016.

Bicalho Saturnino, G., Siebner, H. R., Madsen, K. H. & Thielscher, A.
Feasibility of focused multichannel optimization of transcranial current stimulation.
1 p., 2016.

Dubbioso, R., Raffin, E. E., Karabanov, A., Haahr Nielsen, S., Thielscher, A. & Siebner, H. R.
1 p., 2016.

Göksu, C., Hanson, L. G., Ehses, P., Scheffler, K. & Thielscher, A.
Efficiency Analysis of Magnetic Field Measurements for MR Electrical Impedance Tomography (MREIT).

Madsen, K. H., Thielscher, A., Saturnino, G. B. & Duemose Nielsen, J.
Computationally Efficient and Geometrically Accurate Head Models for EEG Based on FEM.

Madsen, K. H., Ewald, L., Siebner, H. R., Thielscher, A. 
Transcranial magnetic stimulation: An automated procedure to obtain coil-specific models for field calculations. Brain Stimulation.

Leitão, J., Thielscher, A., Tuennerhoff, J. & Noppeney, U.
Concurrent TMS-fMRI reveals interactions between dorsal and ventral attentional systems.
Journal of Neuroscience 35: 11445-11457. 2015.

Hartwigsen, G., Bergmann, T. O., Herz, D. M., Angstmann, S., Karabanov, A., Raffin, E., Thielscher, A., Siebner, H. R.
Modeling the effects of non-invasive transcranial brain stimulation at the biophysical, network and cognitive level. 
Progress in Brain Research: Computational Neurostimulation 222, p. 261-287. 2015.

Raffin, E., Pellegrino, G., Di Lazzaro, V., Thielscher, A., Siebner, H. R.
Bringing transcranial mapping into shape: sulcus-aligned mapping captures motor somatotopy in human primary motor hand area. 
Neuroimage (doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.07.025) 2015.

Saturnino, G. B., Antunes, A., Thielscher, A.
On the importance of electrode parameters for shaping electric field patterns generated by tDCS. 
Neuroimage 120:25-35. 2015.

Opitz A, Paulus W, Will S, Antunes A, Thielscher A (2015) Determinants of the electric field during transcranial direct current stimulation. Neuroimage 109:140-50.

Ergin MA, Kühne M, Thielscher A, Peer A (2014) Design of a New MR Compatible Haptic Interface with Six Actuated Degrees of Freedom, Conference paper on IEEE BioRob: 293 - 300

Rosso C, Valabregue R, Arbizu C, Ferrieux S, Vargas P, Humbert F, Attal Y, Messé A, Zavanone C, Meunier S, Cohen L, Delmaire C, Thielscher A, Herz DM, Siebner HR, Samson Y, Lehéricy S (2014). Connectivity between Right Inferior Frontal Gyrus and Supplementary Motor Area Predicts After-Effects of Right Frontal Cathodal tDCS on Picture Naming Speed, Brain Stimulation 7(1):122-9

Reichenbach A, Thielscher A, Peer A, Bülthoff HH, Bresciani JP (2014). A key region in the human parietal cortex for processing proprioceptive hand feedback during reaching movements, NeuroImage 84:615-25

Leitão J*, Thielscher A*, Werner S, Pohmann R, Noppeney U (2013). The effects of parietal TMS on auditory and visual activations at the primary cortical level - a concurrent TMS-fMRI study, Cerebral Cortex, 23, 873-884  *equal contribution

Windhoff M, Opitz A, Thielscher A (2013). Field calculations in brain stimulation based on finite elements: An optimized processing pipeline for the generation and usage of accurate individual head models, Human Brain Mapping, 24, 923-935

Moisa M, Siebner HR, Pohmann R, Thielscher A (2012). Uncovering a context-specific connectional fingerprint of human dorsal premotor cortex, Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 7244-7252

Helbig HB, Ernst MO, Ricciardi E, Pietrini P, Thielscher A, Mayer KM, Schultz J, Noppeney U (2012). The neural mechanisms of reliability weighted integration of shape information from vision and touch, NeuroImage, 60, 1063-1072

Opitz A, Windhoff M, Heidemann R, Turner R, Thielscher A (2011). How the brain tissue shapes the electric field induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation, NeuroImage, 58, 849-859 (topic selected for a talk at HBM 2011, Quebec, Canada)

Reichenbach A, Bresciani JP, Peer A, Bülthoff HH, Thielscher A (2011). Contributions of the PPC to Online Control of Visually Guided Reaching Movements Assessed with fMRI-Guided TMS, Cerebral Cortex, 21, 1602-1612

Zaretskaya N*, Thielscher A*, Logothetis NK, Bartels A (2010). Disrupting parietal function prolongs dominance durations in binocular rivalry, Current Biology, 20, 2106-2111 *equal contribution

Wehrl HF, Judenhofer MS, Thielscher A, Martirosian P, Schick F, Pichler BJ (2011). Assessment of MR compatibility of a PET insert developed for simultaneous multiparametric PET/MR imaging on an animal system operating at 7 T, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 65, 269-279

Reichenbach A, Whittingstall K, Thielscher A (2011). Effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation on visual evoked potentials in a visual suppression task, NeuroImage, 54, 1375-1384

Thielscher A, Opitz A, Windhoff M (2011). Impact of the gyral geometry on the electric field induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation, NeuroImage, 54, 234-243

Moisa M, Pohmann R, Uludag K, Thielscher A (2010). Interleaved TMS/CASL: Comparison of different rTMS protocols, NeuroImage, 49, 612-620

Thielscher A, Reichenbach A, Ugurbil K, Uludag K (2010). The Cortical Site of Visual Suppression by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Cerebral Cortex, 20, 328-338

Reichenbach A, Thielscher A, Peer A, Bülthoff HH, Bresciani JP (2009). Seeing the hand while reaching speeds up on-line responses to a sudden change in target position, Journal of Physiology, 587, 4605-4616

Thielscher A, Wichmann FA (2009). Determining the cortical target of transcranial magnetic stimulation, NeuroImage, 47, 1319-1330

Moisa M, Pohmann R, Ewald L, Thielscher A (2009). A new coil positioning method for interleaved TMS/fMRI and its validation in a motor cortex study, Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 29, 189-197

Judenhofer MS, Wehrl HF, Newport DF, Catana C, Siegel SB, Becker M, Thielscher A, Kneilling M, Lichy M, Eichner M, Klingel K, Reischl G, Widmaier S, Röcken M, Nutt RE, Machulla HJ, Uludag K, Cherry SR, Claussen CD, Pichler BJ (2008). Simultaneous PET/MRI: A new Approach for Functional and Morphological Imaging, Nature Medicine, 14, 459-465

Thielscher A, Kölle M, Neumann H, Spitzer M, Grön G (2008). Texture segmentation in human perception: a combined modeling and fMRI study, Neuroscience, 151, 730-736

Thielscher A, Neumann H (2008). Globally consistent depth sorting of overlapping 2D surfaces in a model using local recurrent interactions, Biological Cybernetics, 98, 305-337

Thielscher A, Pessoa L (2007). Neural correlates of perceptual choice and decision making during fear-disgust discrimination, Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 2908 –2917 (see Tobler&Kalenscher, JNeursc, 27, 6081-6082, for a review)

Thielscher A, Neumann H (2007). A computational model to link psychophysics and cortical cell activation patterns in human texture processing, Journal of Computational Neuroscience, 22, 255-282.

Thielscher A, Neumann H (2005). Neural Mechanisms of Human Texture Processing: Texture Boundary Detection and Visual Search, Spatial Vision, 18, 227-257.

Schönfeldt Lecuona C, Thielscher A, Freudenmann RW, Kron M, Spitzer M, Herwig U (2005). Accuracy of Stereotaxic Positioning of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Brain Topography, 17, 253-259.

Grön G, Kirstein M, Thielscher A, Riepe MW, Spitzer M (2005). Cholinergic enhancement of episodic memory in healthy young adults, Psychopharmacology, 182, 170 – 179.

Thielscher A, Kammer T (2004). Electric Field Properties of Two Commercial Figure-8 Coils in TMS: Calculation of Focality and Efficiency, Clinical Neurophysiology, 115, 1697-1708.

Thielscher A, Neumann H (2003). Neural Mechanisms of Cortico-cortical Interaction in Texture Boundary Detection: a Modeling Approach, Neuroscience, 122, 921-939.

Kammer T, Beck S, Puls K, Roether C, Thielscher A (2003). Motor and Phosphene Thresholds: Consequences of Anisotropy, Supplements to Clinical Neurophysiology, 56, 198-203.

Kammer T, Thielscher A (2003). Physical and physiological foundations of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (in German), Nervenheilkunde, 22, 168-176.

Thielscher A, Schubö A, Neumann H (2002). A Neural Model of Human Texture Processing: Texture Segmentation vs. Visual Search. In: Bülthoff HH, Walraven C. (eds), Biologically Motivated Computer Vision, Springer, Heidelberg

Thielscher A, Kammer T (2002). Linking Physics with Physiology in TMS, NeuroImage, 17, 1117-1130.

Herwig U, Kolbel K, Wunderlich AP, Thielscher A, von Tiesenhausen C, Spitzer M, Schonfeldt-Lecuona C (2002). Spatial congruence of neuronavigated transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional neuroimaging, Clinical Neurophysiology, 113, 462-468.

Herwig U, Schonfeldt-Lecuona C, Wunderlich AP, von Tiesenhausen C, Thielscher A, Walter H, Spitzer M (2001). The navigation of transcranial magnetic stimulation, Psychiatry Research, 108, 123-131.

Kammer T, Beck S, Thielscher A, Laubis-Herrmann U, Topka H (2001). Motor thresholds in humans: a transcranial magnetic stimulation study comparing different pulse waveforms, current directions and stimulator types, Clinical Neurophysiology, 112, 250-258.

Herwig U, Schönfeldt Lecuona C, Wunderlich AP, Thielscher A, Grön G, von Tiesenhausen C, Spitzer M (2000). Navigation of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation guided by fMRI activation maps (in German), Nervenheilkunde, 19, 38-41.

Conference Papers (peer-reviewed)

Puonti O, Van Leemput K, Nielsen JD, Bauer C, Siebner HR, Madsen KH, Thielscher A (2018) Skull segmentation from MR scans using a higher-order shape model based on convolutional restricted Boltzmann machines. SPIE Medical Imaging 2018 (selected for talk)

Thielscher A, Antunes A, Saturnino GB (2015) Field modeling for transcranial magnetic stimulation: a useful tool to understand the physiological effects of TMS? Invited conference paper at IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Milan, Italy (doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2015.7318340; selected for talk)

Wechsler A, Wössner S, Stallkamp J, Thielscher A, Kammer T (2004). Development of a Navigation System for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Proceedings of the Scientific Workshop on Medical Robotics, Navigation and Visualization 2004 (Remagen Germany)