Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 to treat depression that hasn’t responded to other interventions, can also counter working-memory deficits caused by schizophrenia. This finding was published March 15 in Biological Psychiatry. “If replicated, the findings may offer important new treatment approaches for memory symptoms that are often resistant to conventional treatments,” the senior scientist, Jeff Daskalakis, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, said during an interview with Psychiatric News.
Since rTMS targeted over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex has been found to improve working memory in healthy subjects, Daskalakis and his colleagues decided to try it in a four-week, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled pilot study on 27 individuals with schizophrenia. They found that rTMS, but not the placebo sham, significantly improved the subjects’ working memory. Moreover, the subjects’ improved memory was comparable to that of healthy individuals.
“We are involved in a replication study that will also endeavor to examine biomarkers of treatment change,” Daskalakis said.