Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as Treatment in Multiple Neurologic Conditions


Purpose of Review

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a method of Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation that is based on electro-physical principles discovered by Michael Faraday. A TMS device is made of one or two copper coils, positioned superficially to a site of interest in the brain, to non-invasively produce a brief magnetic pulse to an estimated depth from the surface of the scalp with the following axonal depolarization. This axonal depolarization activates cortical and subcortical networks with multiple effects. There are different methods of TMS used, all with different mechanisms of action. TMS is well tolerated with very few side effects.

Recent Findings

TMS is now approved for major depression disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. There is significant data to consider approval of TMS for many neurological disorders. This is a review of the uses of TMS in diverse neurological conditions, including stroke and spasticity, migraine, and dementia.


TMS is a device that utilizes non-invasive brain stimulation, and it has shown promising results with objective clinical and basic science data. Its ability to trigger neuronal plasticity and potentiating synaptic transmission gives it incredible therapeutic potential. There are diverse mechanisms of action, and this could be troublesome in elaborating clinical trials and standardization of therapy.

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I thank Rachel Iglesias, Juan J. Del Risco, and Gabriel Sabbagh for their advice and support and for providing graphic illustrations. Dr. Mark Hallett and Dr. Louis De Beaumont for giving me permission to use their figures.

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Correspondence to Antonio H. Iglesias.

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Iglesias, A.H. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as Treatment in Multiple Neurologic Conditions. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 20, 1 (2020).

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  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Motor-evoked potential
  • Repetitive TMS
  • Magnetic coil
  • Cortical excitability
  • Neuronal plasticity
  • Neurological disorders