Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two Minutes Of Magnetic Stimulation Can Change Your Brain For An Hour

Date:
January 26, 2005
Source:
University College London
Summary:
A couple of minutes is all it takes to 'knock out' bits of your brain for an hour, according to a new study by a University College London (UCL) team. The team have been working on ways to improve a method known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and are now using their adapted version of TMS to investigate possible treatments for stroke patients or those with Parkinson's disease.

A couple of minutes is all it takes to 'knock out' bits of your brain for an hour, according to a new study by a University College London (UCL) team. The team have been working on ways to improve a method known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and are now using their adapted version of TMS to investigate possible treatments for stroke patients or those with Parkinson's disease.

In the latest issue of the journal Neuron, Professor John Rothwell and colleagues from UCL's Institute of Neurology discovered ways to improve TMS to produce effects on the brain that last for more than an hour after only 40 seconds of stimulation. Longer-lasting effects will enable scientists to use TMS to modify brain activity in conditions ranging from depression to brain damage.

TMS stimulates the brain via a magnetic coil held outside the skull which can be moved over different parts of the brain. The magnetic fields created by the coil induce tiny electrical currents inside the skull that alter the activity of neural pathways, stimulating or inhibiting activity in parts of the brain.

The technique has been used predominantly as a research tool to study how the healthy brain reacts to injury or damage but scientists have recently started to explore its possibilities as a treatment for depression, epilepsy, stroke and Parkinson's disease. A handful of studies have already shown potential therapeutic benefits from TMS.

The advantage of TMS is that it is non-invasive and does not require a patient to be hospitalized i.e. the treatment can be given in an out-patient clinic. However, the drawback in the past has been that TMS led to only transient neurological effects which rarely lasted longer than 30 minutes. The new method pioneered by the UCL team holds promise that much longer lasting and more powerful effects can be produced.

Professor Rothwell's team adapted the technique by testing different patterns of repetitive magnetic pulses to the scalps of volunteers, delivered over a period of 20 to 190 seconds. The pulses were aimed at the motor cortex that controls muscle response, because effects on the motor cortex can be objectively measured by recording the amount of electrical muscle response to stimulation.

The researchers positioned the magnetic coil over the motor cortex area that controls hand movement and measured the amount of muscle response in a small muscle in the subjects' hands. They discovered that the excitatory effect of TMS builds up rapidly, within about a second, while the inhibitory effect builds up within several seconds. Thus, by adjusting the length of stimulation, they could choose between stimulating or suppressive effects on the brain.

The team were able to produce rapid, consistent and controllable changes in the motor cortex area, lasting double the amount of time of conventional TMS. Initial tests performed to assess the safety of TMS showed that there were no long-lasting or side effects from these stimulations.

Professor Rothwell says: "Now that we have improved the technique, we can use it to explore whether stimulation of damaged areas in stroke patients' brains can help speed up their recovery. Alternatively, it may be that in some patients the 'healthy' side of the brain interferes with recovery by the damaged side, so that another approach would be to reduce its activity and stop it competing for control."

Rothwell's team are also investigating the possibility of applying the method to patients with Parkinson's disease or dystonia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University College London. "Two Minutes Of Magnetic Stimulation Can Change Your Brain For An Hour." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050125084105.htm>.
University College London. (2005, January 26). Two Minutes Of Magnetic Stimulation Can Change Your Brain For An Hour. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050125084105.htm
University College London. "Two Minutes Of Magnetic Stimulation Can Change Your Brain For An Hour." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050125084105.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins