Mechanisms and the current state of transcranial magnetic stimulation

CNS Spectr. 2003 Jul;8(7):496-514. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900018976.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is unique among the current brain stimulation techniques because it is relatively non-invasive. TMS markedly differs from vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation and magnetic seizure therapy, all of which require either an implanted prosthesis or general anesthesia, or both. Since its rebirth in its modern form in 1985, TMS has already shown potential usefulness in at least three important domains-as a basic neuroscience research instrument, as a potential clinical diagnostic tool, and as a therapy for several different neuropsychiatric conditions. The TMS scientific literature has now expanded beyond what a single summary article can adequately cover. This review highlights several new developments in combining TMS with functional brain imaging, using TMS as a psychiatric therapy, potentially using TMS to enhance performance, and finally recent advances in the core technology of TMS. TMS' ability to non-invasively and focally stimulate the brain of an awake human is proving to be a most important development for neuroscience in general, and neuropsychiatry in particular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Movement Disorders / therapy*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Management*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / methods*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome