Revisiting the therapeutic effect of rTMS on negative symptoms in schizophrenia: a meta-analysis

Psychiatry Res. 2014 Mar 30;215(3):505-13. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.12.019. Epub 2013 Dec 21.


This study sought to determine the moderators in the treatment effect of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on negative symptoms in schizophrenia. We performed a meta-analysis of prospective studies on the therapeutic application of rTMS in schizophrenia assessing the effects of both low-frequency and high-frequency rTMS on negative symptoms. Results indicate that rTMS is effective in alleviating negative symptoms in schizophrenia. The effect size was moderate (0.63 and 0.53, respectively). The effect size of rTMS on negative symptoms in sham-controlled trials was 0.80 as measured by the SANS and 0.41 as measured by the PANSS. A longer duration of illness was associated with poorer efficacy of rTMS on negative symptoms. A 10 Hz setting, at least 3 consecutive weeks of treatment, treatment site at the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and a 110% motor threshold (MT) were found to be the best rTMS parameters for the treatment of negative symptoms. The results of our meta-analysis suggest that rTMS is an effective treatment option for negative symptoms in schizophrenia. The moderators of rTMS on negative symptoms included duration of illness, stimulus frequency, duration of illness, position and intensity of treatment as well as the type of outcome measures used.

Keywords: Intervention; Meta-analysis; Negative symptoms; Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Negativism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenia / therapy*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome