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Mapping patients' brains to better target magnetic stimulation treatment for depression

Mapping patients' brains to better target magnetic stimulation treatment for depression
Mapping patients' brains to better target magnetic stimulation treatment for depression


TMS Therapy
A technology to personalise transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment for depression could lead to better outcomes for Australian patients. Image credit: Andrew Neil

A technology to personalise transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment for depression could deliver better outcomes for Australian patients, according to researchers from the University of Melbourne.

TMS therapy, which uses electromagnetic coils placed on a patient's head to deliver magnetic pulses to stimulate mood-regulating nerve cells in the brain, has been used as an effective treatment option for depression for 20 years in Australia and around the world.

Unlike other depression treatments, TMS has minimal side effects and the TMS pulses feel like a light tap on the head. TMS has been used as an alternative treatment for people with depression who experience side effects from medications.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne have been leading the way in uncovering the specific pathways in the brain involved in depression, and they are the first in the world to develop a new method that allows them to individually target these precise brain circuits using TMS.

Neuroscientist Dr Robin Cash says their research shows that better targeting of specific brain areas in TMS therapy using brain scans could lead to improved outcomes for patients.

“Our study suggests that this novel approach has the potential to improve treatment outcomes for people with depression. Because no two brains are the same, there is a strong rationale for personalizing treatment targeting,” Dr. Cash said.

Collaborators from the Brisbane team have applied this approach to patient care, establishing the Queensland Neurostimulation Centre, the first clinic in the Southern Hemisphere to offer routine individualised TMS therapy for depression. Their approach is now used by several clinics and research teams around the world.

Researchers will test the clinical benefits of the modified TMS technique against standard TMS therapy in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne later this year using a $2.4 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council. People with treatment-resistant depression who are interested in taking part can express their interest by emailing us. [email protected].




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