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Brain Stimulation Done at Slower Rates May Be Best for MS and Other Patients as Neurons "Tire"

May 24, 2018

A new non-invasive procedure meant to stimulate the brain may be more effective in treating multiple sclerosis as well as other patients if the rate of stimulation is slowed. A new study is finding that neurons “tire” with overstimulation and may fail to respond.

The research, “Less might be more: Conduction failure as a factor possibly limiting the efficacy of higher frequencies in rTMS protocols,” was published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

The procedure — repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) — is used to treat major depression, stroke or movement disorders. During rTMS, doctors place an electromagnetic device against the scalp, near the forehead, and use magnetic pulses to stimulate specific brain regions. In MS patients, prior research has shown that rTMS eases depression and may aid working memory.

But researchers are still working to optimize the timing of these magnetic pulses to make rTMS a more effective, and more accurate, tool. A better optimized pulse schedule could also help therapists in spotting and tracking stimulation spots in the brain.