Double-blind, randomized sham controlled study of deep-TMS add-on treatment for negative symptoms and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia

Background:

Negative symptoms and cognitive deficits are considered core symptoms of schizophrenia, yet treatment for them remains inadequate. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) is a novel technology that enables non-invasive stimulation of deep layers of the prefrontal cortex. Preliminary evidence suggests that dTMS could be effective in the treatment of negative symptoms and cognitivedeficits.

Objective:

The current study is the firstdouble-blind, randomized sham-controlled study to examine the feasibility of dTMS add-on treatment for negative symptoms and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.

Method:

Twenty daily H1 dTMStreatments (20Hz, 120% MT) were delivered, in a double-blind, randomized sham-controlled design (n=30). Extensive clinical and cognitive assessments were carried out throughout the study and for an additional one month follow-up period.

Results:

At the end of the treatment period, negative symptoms (as indicated by the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS)) significantly reduced in the dTMS group (–7.7, p=0.0289), but not in the sham group (–1.9, p=0.6766). Differences between the groups were not statistically significant.

Conclusions:

In conclusion, the current study did not find a difference between H1 deep-TMS and sham stimulation in the treatment of negative symptomsof schizophrenia. However, a significantreduction inSANS score was achieved in the active treatment group. To better examine the full potential of dTMS treatment for negative symptoms of schizophrenia a large-scale study is due.

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