May 17, 2005

Magnets for Audio Hallucinations

News reports out of Australia suggests more positive examples in the use of special magnets, in a therapy formally called repetative Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (or rTMS) for reduction of the audio hallucinations that are common in schizophrenia.

The news report suggests that:

"Using magnetic fields to stimulate the brains of schizophrenia patients is showing promise as a way of quietening the voices in their heads, a Sydney psychiatrist says.

Colleen Loo is partway through an Australian pilot study using a non-invasive treatment, known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), on people with schizophrenia who experience daily auditory hallucinations.

Dr Loo, of the Black Dog Institute, said she hoped to recruit about eight more people for the study.

TMS, which is also being trialled as a treatment for people with severe depression, is delivered via a coil held to a patient's head, allowing psychiatrists to target specific areas of the brain.

"We know from research that looked at the brains of people with schizophrenia who are hearing voices that one of the consistent abnormalities seems to be in the temporal lobe," Dr Loo said.

"That's the part that processes language, speech and hearing."

"One of the theories of why people hear voices is that there's an overactivity in the part of the brain generating the voices. We're using TMS to try and reduce that activity."

Dr Loo said previous international studies had focused on the left temporal lobe in schizophrenia patients, giving mixed results, but her research was looking at both sides of the brain.

"We're stimulating three different areas of the brain of each person in the study to see which one they respond best to and then giving them up to six weeks of TMS at that site."

Dr Loo said so far, results had been encouraging but more research was needed before TMS could be considered an effective treatment for schizophrenia patients.

People (in Australia) wanting to take part in the study should phone the institute's research team on 02 9382 3720.

Participants can be of any age but need to be experience frequent auditory hallucinations.

They will not be required to go off their normal anti-psychotic drugs for the study.

More information:

Overview of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Black Dog Institute (Australia)
Prince of Wales Hospital
Randwick NSW 2031

Contact phone number for schizoprhenia rTMS tests: 02 9382 3720


My Aunt is 92 , she has Macular Degeneration,deaf uses hearing aids. Two years ago, she thought the people up stairs were playing their music too loud and waking her up at night, and it has gotten progressively worse. She now hears people telling her what to do and not to do, this includes eating, going to the restroom,combing her hair, anything and everything. The other night it was windy, rainy and cold and she thought she heard my her sister tell her to go out to her car. She says that she communicated with them through the television. Before she got sick, she didn't like television.

Posted by: Marion Brewer at September 5, 2006 08:17 PM

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