Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Schizophrenia and Working Memory

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells. It does not require sedation or anesthesia and patients remain awake, reclined in a chair, while treatment is administered through coils placed near the forehead. In 2008, the FDA approved the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to treat depression in patients who don’t respond to pharmacotherapy. Recently, in a randomized controlled trial, University of Toronto scientists found evidence that stimulating the brain using rTMS may be an effective strategy to improve cognitive function for patients with schizophrenia. Problems with working memory has represented a core cognitive domain that is impaired in schizophrenia and for which there have been no satisfactory treatments. In this study, researchers found that rTMS not only improved working memory in patients after four (4) weeks, but the improvement was to a level comparable to healthy subjects.

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