The goal of this pilot study is to determine whether a repetitive high-dose form of non-invasive brain stimulation is a promising and safe treatment for stroke-related cognitive difficulties. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is an FDA approved treatment for depression, and is used commonly to treat people for their depression. In studies of rTMS for depression and other disorders, individuals have experienced improved cognitive function. Thus, we are testing here whether cognitive function in individuals with chronic stroke could be improved by rTMS.
The study will use a new method for non-invasively examining the brain called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS involves placing a coil of wire above the scalp and intermittently passing a very powerful current through it. This current produces energy in the form of a magnetic field that passes through the scalp. The magnetic field, in turn, induces a much weaker electrical current in the brain, causing the neurons directly under the coil to activate for a brief period of time. The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has approved TMS as a method for treating depression since 2008. By using TMS, we can evaluate how well your brain is controlling one of your hand or leg muscles. One way to measure this is by recording activity via electrodes on the hand opposite the side of the brain being stimulated. For example we will be stimulating on the left side of the brain and recording from electrodes on your right hand. In this study we are determining the effects of different types of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) protocols on hand movement. rTMS means that the magnetic pulses are applied consecutively, and at a specified pace- the frequency. The specific type of rTMS you will receive is called "theta-burst stimulation" (TBS). TBS is characterized by a specific frequency of stimulation.
The current investigation uses a brain-based technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which has helped to treat depression, to try to stimulate those brain regions understood to be essential to emotional experience and impaired in PTSD. In summary, the aim is to enhance emotion engagement and regulation and possibly uncover new brain-based interventions that could help ready the brain so an individual with PTSD could then fully engage and thus optimize emotion-focused psychotherapy.