Research Areas

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

rTMS is a non-invasive technique used to apply a weak magnetic field to the brain.  It is best known as a treatment for depression, but there are encouraging results, including from our pilot study funded by Riverview Health Centre, that suggest it may also be effective as a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. 

Our Research

A study led by Dr. Zahra Mousavi involving clinical trials of rTMS as a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease is underway and will advance the research in this field to a new level of statistical rigour.  In December 2016 the study was approved for a funding grant of $1.7 M from the Weston Brain Institute. The new study will be in collaboration with local, national, and international partners.   

The promising early results were only possible thanks to participation from volunteers in the community, and volunteers will continue to be vital to the success of this research. 

Volunteers who are eligible to participate in the rTMS treatment study will first participate in a two hour initial assessment, during which we will explain the treatment study procedure in detail.

If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to Dr. Moussavi to set a time for initial assessment. This link below shows the lab and the facility. Our TMS lab is located in Room PE-450 Administration Building, Riverview Health Center (1 Morley Ave).

How it Works

A magnetic field is generated by passing currents through an electromagnetic coil placed adjacent to a patient's scalp.  This induces an alternating magnetic field oriented orthogonally to the plane of the coil, which passes relatively unimpeded through the layers of tissue and bone over the cortex.  The small electric field that flows around the magnetic field results in currents in the cortical and sub-cortical areas.  

Unlike electrical stimulation, which can excite neuronal axons directly, TMS stimulates neurons indirectly via interneurons and can therefore elicit responses that reflect cortical excitability. When the induced magnetic field is above a certain threshold, and is directed in an appropriate orientation relative to the brain's neuronal pathways, depending on the polarization of the electrical current, localized axonal hyperpolarization or depolarization occurs, which inhibits or activates the neurons in the relevant brain structure, respectively.

TMS is a unique approach that allows relatively non-invasive and painless central nervous system (CNS) stimulation. However, depending on the type of induced pulses it has some limitations, one of which is the depth of stimulation. Standard TMS coils are limited to activation of only cortical brain regions, up to a depth of about 1.5 cm. Therefore it can only affect the surface of the brain.