Science Daily, September 4th 2017: Scientists discover brain area which can be targeted for treatment in patients with Schizophrenia who ‘hear voices’.
“For the first time, scientists have precisely identified and targeted an area of the brain which is involved in “hearing voices,” experienced by many patients with schizophrenia. They have been able to show in a controlled trial that targeting this area with magnetic pulses can improve the condition in some patients.”
As a person who hears voices often (near constantly) despite medication intervention I’m always looking for new ways to cope with them (the voices). And although I don’t see myself receiving Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) anytime soon, I think it’s important to keep up with new treatments as they become possible or available.
So what is TMS and how might it help people with Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder? In a TMS session, an electric coil is placed against the head and a painless magnetic pulse stimulates nerve cells in certain regions of your brain. Right now it’s been used primarily for Major Depression Disorder but with this early research, it appears that TMS could be used to target regions of the brain associated with hearing voices.
“The French research team worked with 26 patients who received active TMS treatment, and 33 as a control group, who received sham (placebo) treatment. The researchers interviewed the patients using a standard protocol — the Auditory Hallucinations Rating Scale — which revealed most of the characteristic features of the voices which they were hearing. The treated patients received a series of 20 Hz high-frequency magnetic pulses over 2 sessions a day for 2 days. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the pulses were targeted at a specific brain area in the temporal lobe, which is associated with language (the exact area is the crossing of the projection of the ascending branch of the left lateral sulcus and the left superior temporal sulcus).
After 2 weeks, the patients were re-evaluated. The researchers found that 34.6% of the patients being treated by TMS showed a significant response, whereas only 9.1% of patients in the sham group responded (‘significant response’ was defined as a more than 30% decrease in the Total Auditory Hallucinations Rating Scale score).”
This is also highly promising for those people with Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder who are nonresponsive or resistant to medication and other traditional treatments. But I think what is most important about this is the finding of the anatomical area of the brain associated with auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia. And while these studies have a long way to go before TMS could/would be accepted as a conventional treatment for Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective the results of this study are certainly promising.
*I’m planning on doing a write up about new breakthroughs and scientific studies in the mental health/illness field once or twice a week*