The activity of certain brain nerve cells can be deliberately influenced by using magnetic stimulation, a new study has found.
The study could mean use of cerebral stimulation to treat functional disorders of the brain.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is based on the fact that the cortex, the rind of the brain located directly underneath the skull bone, can be stimulated by means of a magnetic field.
One single magnetic pulse serves to test the activability of nerve cells in an area of the cortex, in order to assess changes in diseases or after consumption of medications or also following a prior artificial stimulation of the brain.
Medical experts from Bochum under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Klaus Funke (Department of Neurophysiology) have now shown for the first time that an artificial cortex stimulation specifically changes the activity of certain inhibitory nerve cells as a function of the stimulus protocol used.
Funke's group was also able to show that rats also learned more quickly if they were treated with the activating stimulus protocol (iTBS) before each training.
Repetitive TMS is already being used in clinical trials with limited success for therapy of functional disorders of the brain, above all in severe depressions.
"It is doubtless too early to derive new forms of treatment of functional disorders of the brain from the results of our study, but the knowledge obtained provides an important contribution for a possibly more specific application of TMS in future", Funke said.
The researchers have published their studies in the Journal of Neuroscience and in the European Journal of Neuroscience.