How TMS Therapy Works?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is based upon principles first discovered by the scientist Michael Faraday in 1831. Faraday’s research regarding the linkage between electrical currents and magnetic fields has been applied to a unique depression treatment that uses short pulses of magnetic fields (similar to those used in an MRI procedure) to stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain thought to control mood. TMS therapy produces a magnetic field by passing electrical current through a coil that is positioned near the patient’s scalp. The field is pulsed and applied repetitively; thus the treatment may be referred to as “rTMS” (repetitive TMS).

This magnetic field passes painlessly and is directed focally through the scalp into the cortical tissue of the brain, where the synapses (connections between nerve bundles) are then stimulated and strengthened. The magnetic fields pass approximately 2-3 centimeters into the brain directly under the treatment coil. The magnetic pulses stimulate circuits of neurons located in the left prefrontal cortex, which is an area of the brain involved in emotional experience and processing and implicated as a cause of depression when dysfunctional.

TMS has been recommended as a treatment for major depression and FDA-cleared since October, 2008.

This video explains the science behind TMS Therapy. It describes the use of magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain center involved in mood regulation: