So many uses for one modality?

October 19, 2012

When I talk about TMS and the possible applications, the list just seems to grow and grow. It clearly has a role in psychiatry for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and some aspects of psychotic disorders. But it also is used in neurological conditions, disorders of hearing, and other seemingly unrelated problems. Are these just snake oil promises? I don’t think so, and explain it similar to using a screwdriver. A screwdriver’s primary purpose is to turn screws, but it can also be used to open a can of paint, scrap off debris, etch, dig, hammer, and so on. TMS is a tool that can be effective in different scenarios by varying the location and stimulus parameters. When applied to mood centers that are under-active, TMS can be set to deliver stimulation in a way that increases brain activity. When applied to anxiety centers that are over-active, the machine is programmed to deliver stimulation that will bring activity levels down to normal. Thus when treating tinnitus, in which the auditory cortex is over-active, stimulation can be set to correct activity levels in the auditory center.

Key Concept: By varying the target location and stimulation parameters we can address a number of disorders centered in the brain.