J Neural Eng. 2020 Sep 11. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/abb7a5. Online ahead of print.
By recording neural activity directly from the human brain, researchers gain unprecedented insight into how neurocognitive processes unfold in real time. We first briefly discuss how intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) recordings, performed for clinical practice, are used to study human cognition with the spatiotemporal and single-trial precision traditionally limited to non-human animal research. We then delineate how studies using iEEG have informed our understanding of issues fundamental to human cognition: auditory prediction, working and episodic memory, and internal cognition. We also discuss the potential of iEEG to infer causality through the manipulation or ‘engineering’ of neurocognitive processes via spatiotemporally precise electrical stimulation. We close by highlighting limitations of iEEG, potential of burgeoning techniques to further increase spatiotemporal precision, and implications for future research using intracranial approaches to understand, restore, and enhance human cognition.