Research into the way our brains work has progressed exponentially over the last few decades. We are the only life on earth that looks into ourselves, what makes us tick, what makes us think, and what makes us, us. Our brains function through signals, powered by electricity created by our own body.
We’ve tried to master the way the brain utilizes electricity. This started by directly inserting pins that delivered charges to the brain. The brain responded, allowing us to get a rough map of what part of the brain controls which part of the body. Afterwards, we experimented to make practice safer and more beneficial. Still, we continued to search for other methods since inserting pins into the brain is, well, pretty scary.
There are many technological leaps made in this field like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Another path we took is through Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
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What is TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
It needs three things: an electromagnetic coil, a machine to deliver precise electric signals, and your brain. The electromagnetic coil delivers a weak magnetic pulse that stimulates brain cells. The stimulation causes neurons to react. This produces certain effects that could be benign or beneficial to people. As far as the research is going, it’s positive.
Adverse Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
With positive effects always come adverse effects. Like all medicine, the goal is to produce as much benefit while minimizing the negative effects. The procedure can cause loud “taps”, simulating sound. Some patients can have their hearing lessened for an hour or two. In some rare cases, it can cause fainting and minor memory impairment. The cases are isolated but possible.
Uses of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS is used to diagnose damage from stroke, multiple sclerosis, movement disorders, injuries and other damages to the neurons, both in the brain and the spinal cord. The effects are measured, allowing doctors to get a proper map of which functions are compromised.
It’s also used to treat major depression. According to research, it has effects on slowing down addiction. With continued therapy, it allows effective suppression of mental impulses due to addiction and withdrawal.
The same effects were shown to have improvements in treating migraine and other neuropathic pain. This is recommended for conditions where regular treatment of drugs are ineffective, or if the patient cannot tolerate the regular treatments
Future Implications of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
The potential benefit of TMS is not fully embraced yet. But further research shows positive results for treating Autism Spectrum and Aspergers. There are also aspirations and speculation about the use of TMS in furthering brain development. There’s prospective data that may suggest TMS can help stimulate brain cells. Its effect on depression also shows potential for treating other psychological disorders. This can range from emotional or mood disorders caused by trauma or other pathological reason.
Clinical trials are still ongoing. The effects of electromagnetism on the brain is still in its infancy, but as time passes, our technology evolves exponentially.