The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology



Review Article

Neuropsychiatric applications of transcranial magnetic stimulation: a meta analysis


Tal  Burt  a1 a2 a4 c1, Sarah H.  Lisanby  a1 a2 and Harold A.  Sackeim  a1 a2 a3
a1 Department of Biological Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, USA
a2 Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
a3 Radiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
a4 Pfizer Inc., New York, NY

Abstract

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a technology that allows for non-invasive modulation of the excitability and function of discrete brain cortical areas. TMS uses alternating magnetic fields to induce electric currents in cortical tissue. In psychiatry, TMS has been studied primarily as a potential treatment for major depression. Most studies indicate that slow-frequency repetitive TMS (rTMS) and higher frequency rTMS have antidepressant properties. A meta-analysis of controlled studies indicates that this effect is fairly robust from a statistical viewpoint. However, effect sizes are heterogeneous, and few studies have shown that rTMS results in substantial rates of clinical response or remission, and the durability of antidepressant effects is largely unknown. We review in detail rTMS studies in the treatment of depression, as well as summarize treatment studies of mania, obsessive–compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. We also review the application of TMS in the study of the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders and summarize studies of the safety of TMS in human subjects.

(Received October 15 2001)
(Reviewed November 18 2001)
(Revised December 4 2001)
(Accepted December 5 2001)


Key Words: Cortical excitability; depression; ECT; meta-analysis; psychiatric disorders; transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Correspondence:
c1 Address for correspondence: Dr T. Burt, Department of Biological Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Unit 126, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA. Tel.: 212 733-2308 Fax: 212 309-4280 E-mail: tal.burt@columbia.edu