What is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)?
TMS is a technique that allows stimulation through the intact skull bone and which stimulates selected brain regions. The stimulation is realized by short magnetic pulses that induce a flow of current in brain areas close to the surface. Thus brain activity may be triggered or modulated without surgery or externally applied electrodes. TMS is a non-invasive method which is almost completely pain-free.
Depending on the stimulation protocol, neuronal functionalities can be inhibited or facilitated for a defined period of time. In addition, repetitive TMS, also known as rTMS, may produce longer-lasting changes in electro-cortical functionalities. Using functional imaging, such as fMRI and PET, overactive (e.g. tinnitus) or inhibited (e.g. depression) areas of the brain can be observed and then modulated with TMS.