rTMS magnetic brain stimulation can help treat the main symptoms of autism.
There is growing evidence that rTMS, which has been successful in treating treatment-resistant depression, can lead to improvement in core symptoms of ASD.
In a session held at the 2016 IMFAR Autism Research Annual Meeting, which focused largely on the therapeutic use of TMS in autism, Dr. Manuel Casanova of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine reported improved cerebral inhibition using low-frequency rTMS in presented children and teenagers. He pointed out that new findings show that the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder can be caused by an increased ratio of cerebral excitation to inhibition, and it has been shown that low frequency rTMS increases the inhibition of the stimulated cortex by activating the inhibitory circuit.
Symptoms of patients less than 18 years old were evaluated by neurophysiological questionnaires both at the beginning and after the stimulation sessions. EEG brainwaves and ERP event-related potential were also recorded at the beginning and after the stimulation sessions in order to evaluate the effects of treatment on selective attention and executive functions, which are both major impairments in people with autism spectrum disorder. “We targeted the DLPFC because of its strong connections with other brain regions and its function that appears to be affected in autism,” said Dr. Casanova. Our thinking was that by targeting this area, we could change it to be closer to the natural range and the related areas would follow suit.
The researchers found that both EEG and ERP indices of selective attention and executive function significantly improved after 6, 12 or 18 sessions of low frequency stimulation. They also found that the amount of irritability and repetitive or stereotyped behavior measured by clinical behavior questionnaires improved significantly. Dr. Casanova said: “We proceeded with caution, but the more sessions people had, the better the results.” Researchers have so far treated about 200 patients with rTMS, and they have not reported any side effects from the use of rTMS.
The team is currently monitoring patients to see how long the effects of the treatment last and whether combining the treatment with other techniques, such as neurofeedback, improves the treatment effects. In the end, Dr. Casanova pointed out that rTMS repeated brain magnetic stimulation has the ability to become an important therapeutic tool in autism spectrum disorder and also play an important role in improving the quality of life of these patients.