Sunday, February 20, 2011

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

An emerging technique for working with the brain is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). In TMS, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the scalp and delivers short painless bursts of energy to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.

TMS has been suggested as clinical tool for the neurorehabilitation of many conditions including depression, hallucination, pain, tinnitus, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke, and possibly for neural enhancement in improving focus and concentration. NeuroStar, a TMS device used in the treatment of depression, was cleared by the FDA in 2008.

The non-invasive nature of TMS also makes it useful as a research tool. Some recent research using TMS has improved knowledge of motor control and perception:

  1. adaptive motor learning in humans is related to cerebellar excitability and depression; motor learning could possibly be enhanced by noninvasive brain stimulation (paper)
  2. the right parietal and frontal eye fields play a key functional role in the spatial updating of objects in trans-saccadic perception (TSP), the process of constructing an internal representation of the world from successive saccadic eye movements (paper)

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