Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive means of electrically stimulating neurons in the human cerebral cortex, is able to modify neuronal activity locally and at distant sites when delivered in series or trains of pulses. Data from stimulation of the motor cortex suggest that the type of effect on the excitability of the cortical network depends on the frequency of stimulation. These data, as well as results from studies in rodents, have been generalized across brain areas and species to provide rationales for using repetitive TMS (rTMS) to treat various brain disorders, most notably depression. Research into clinical applications for TMS remains active and has the potential to provide useful data, but, to date, the results of blinded, sham-controlled trials do not provide clear evidence of beneficial effects that replace or even match the effectiveness of conventional treatments in any disorder. In this review, we discuss the clinical and scientific bases for using rTMS as treatment, and review the results of trials in psychiatric and neurological disorders to date.
Clin Neurophysiol 2001 Aug;112(8):1367-77
Wassermann EM, Lisanby SH.
Brain Stimulation Unit, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 10 Center Drive MSC 1428, Bethesda, MD 20892-1428, USA.