Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), in which the brain is stimulated using a magnetic coil held outside the skull, has shown some promise in both studying the brain and in treating mental disorders such as depression, epilepsy, and Parkinsons disease. Such magnetic fields induce tiny electrical currents inside the skull that alter the activity of neural pathways.
While TMS offers the advantages of relative safety and noninvasiveness, the results of its use in both research and treatment have been disappointing. In human studies, neurological effects of TMS have been transient, rarely lasting longer than 30 minutes.
Now, researchers led by John Rothwell of the Institute of Neurology at University College London have devised a new TMS method that produces rapid, consistent, and controllable changes in the motor cortex of humans that last more than an hour. Their findings offer the potential for both more useful research studies using TMS as well as greater therapeutic application.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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