Magnetic Stimulation Can Improve Memory in Schizophrenia

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry provides new evidence that stimulating the brain using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may be an effective strategy to improve cognitive function. A randomized, 4-week controlled trial (n=27) evaluated whether rTMS can improve working memory in schizophrenia.

Patients performed the verbal working memory n-back task before and after rTMS magnetic resonance image targeted bilaterally sequentially to left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex 750 pulses/side at 20 Hz for 20 treatments. The main outcome measure was mean magnitude of change in the n-back accuracy for target responses with active (n=13) or sham (n=12) rTMS treatment course.

Results demonstrated that rTMS resulted in a significant improvement in working memory performance relative to baseline. According to Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry,”TMS can have lasting effects on brain circuit function because this approach not only changes the activity of the circuit that is being stimulated, but it also may change the plasticity of that circuit, i.e., the capacity of the circuit to remodel itself functionally and structurally to support cognitive functions.”

Biological Psychiatry, Volume 73, Issue 6 (March 15, 2013)