Use of non-invasive brain stimulation methods (NIBS) has become a common approach to study social processing in addition to behavioural, imaging and lesion studies. However, research using NIBS to investigate social processing faces challenges. Overcoming these is important to allow valid and reliable interpretation of findings in neurotypical cohorts, but also to allow us to tailor NIBS protocols to atypical groups with social difficulties. In this review, we consider the utility of brain stimulation as a technique to study and modulate social processing. We also discuss challenges that face researchers using NIBS to study social processing in neurotypical adults with a view to highlighting potential solutions. Finally, we discuss additional challenges that face researchers using NIBS to study and modulate social processing in atypical groups. These are important to consider given that NIBS protocols are rarely tailored to atypical groups before use. Instead, many rely on protocols designed for neurotypical adults despite differences in brain function that are likely to impact response to NIBS.
Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci
Autism Spectrum Disorder, Non-invasive brain stimulation, State-dependent TMS, social cognition, social perception