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National Schizophrenia Trial: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Following successful clinical trials at the University of Bonn on transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment for depression, Yale University researchers are now recruiting schizophrenic patients nationally for a clinical trial involving the use of TMS as a treatment for auditory hallucinations.

The APA reports that transcranial magnetic stimulation will now be tested as a treatment for the auditory hallucinations suffered by some schizophrenic patients. Although first explored as a treatment for auditory hallucinations around 6 years ago, this large scale clinical trial may provide valuable new information that could help those suffering from distressing ‘voices’.

The Yale University Department of Psychiatry site provides additional information on the TMS clinical trials, as well as references to the earlier research paper from 2000 and another published in 2003.

With regard to eligibility for the clinical trial, the Yale site has this to say:

Patient volunteers need to be 18-55 years old, have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or affective disorder (depression or bipolar disorder), and experience “voices” at least 3-4 times per day. Individuals with a history of seizures or family history of epilepsy, or serious medical conditions may not participate in the study. Patients also cannot abuse drugs or alcohol for at least 30 days prior to study enrollment and during the study itself, and will need to stay on a steady dose of psychiatric medication for that period of time also. We do not require patients to be on psychiatric medication in order to enroll on the study, however. Another requirement is that the patient needs to undergo an MRI scan. This procedure is painless and does not involve injections, but does require lying on a stretcher in a large electromagnet for approximately 75-85 minutes. This may be difficult for people who are claustrophobic. Also people who have metal in their bodies (due, for example, to orthopedic surgery) may not be able to undergo MRI scanning.