TMS Improves Attention in ADHD Patients: A Clinical Review

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression since 2008. The mechanism of TMS involves the delivery of brief magnetic pulses to the brain to modulate neural activity. TMS has been remarkably effective in treating treatment-resistant depression, and research is expanding into the use of TMS for the treatment of other conditions, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A 2010 pilot study conducted by Y. Bloch et al. aimed to investigate the effects of repetitive TMS (rTMS) on attention in subjects with ADHD and expand our understanding of the potential of TMS as a treatment option for this condition.

There were 13 total participants, six females and seven males, all adults diagnosed with ADHD based on DSM-IV criteria. No participants were taking stimulant medication during the time of the study. The study was conducted as a crossover double blind randomized controlled study, where participants attended two visits one week apart. Participants were randomly assigned to either receive a real rTMS session or a sham rTMS session at visit 1, and they were crossed over for visit 2. Evaluations were conducted at the beginning of the session days and 10 minutes following rTMS administration. Real rTMS stimulation included 42 2-second, 20-Hz stimuli at 100% motor threshold intensity with 30-second intervals, administered over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The primary outcome measures were changes in attention, hyperactivity, and mood as assessed by the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and visual analogue scales (VASs).

The results showed that real rTMS improved attention significantly as measured by PANAS scores. When attention and hyperactivity scores were combined as one overall ADHD score, data showed also significant improvement post-real rTMS compared to pre-real rTMS. The sham rTMS had no effect on attention or the ADHD score. There were similar findings on VAS scores; attention scores improved following real rTMS and not sham rTMs. There were no significant changes in mood.

Overall, these results showed that rTMS was successful in improving attention and hyperactivity in adults with ADHD after a single session. This data suggest that rTMS may have potential as a treatment for ADHD, specifically for improving attention. As a pilot study, there are some limitations and further research is needed to support the current data. Repeated studies with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up periods are needed to fully understand the effects of rTMS on ADHD and its potential as a treatment option.

Regardless, TMS is considered extremely safe and well-tolerated as a mental health treatment, and has been effective for many adults with ADHD. If you are curious about TMS as a treatment for ADHD symptoms, contact us today at Bespoke Treatment. We create personalized treatment plans for individuals with ADHD that are tailored to your specific needs and goals, and consider the most suitable treatment options for you.

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