In 1985, Barker et al. built a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device with enough power to stimulate dorsal roots in the spine. They quickly realized that this machine could likely also noninvasively stimulate the superficial cortex in humans. They waited a while before using their device over a human head, fearing that the TMS pulse might magnetically “erase the hard-drive” of the human brain. Almost 10 years later, in 1994, an editorial in this journal concerned whether TMS might evolve into a potential antidepressant treatment. In the intervening years, there has been an explosion of basic and clinical research with and about TMS. Studies are now uncovering the mechanisms by which TMS affects the brain. It does not “erase the hard-drive” of the brain, and it has many demonstrated research and clinical uses. This article reviews the major recent advances with this interesting noninvasive technique for stimulating the brain, critically reviewing the data on whether TMS has anticonvulsant effects or modulates cortical-limbic loops.
J ECT 2002 Dec;18(4):170-81
George MS, Nahas Z, Kozel FA, Li X, Denslow S, Yamanaka K, Mishory A, Foust MJ, Bohning DE.