In this photo, you can see the brain map and the targets for stimulation.
The upper right view has some small colored dots . . . those are the target areas. The pair of cameras on the wall match points on my face with the MRI images to show them where to place the TMS coil.
The crosshairs on the left show the coil (the black) dot with the target area being the X
This shot shows the actual TMS machine:
Here's a better view of the TMS coil, on my son Cubby's head:
The hose coming out of the coil is an air line, to pass air through the coil to cool it. The coil is a figure 8 of wire in the blue plastic casing.
And a few more questions before I go . . .
Does TMS damage or kill brain cells?
In my previous post, I described some pretty dramatic effects from TMS. Someone on the http://www.ageofautism.com/ site asked if those vivid images were produced by "millions of neurons dying off."
TMS does not injure or kill brain cells. In this study, we are using what's called functional MRI imagery to watch brain activity before, after, and even during TMS. We can see areas become less active, or more active, and we see them return to their pre-TMS states. We can say with certainty that TMS is not killing brain cells.
We are able to watch the areas of the brain that we stimulate change and evolve.
In addition, Alvaro and other neuroscientists have observed the effects of TMS during open-brain surgical procedures in patients. TMS alters the signals passed through the neurons. It does not burn them out.
Is TMS like ECT, electro convulsive or shock treatment?
Not really. It's only similar in that they are both electrical processes. To use an analogy, TMS is like touching your fingers across the terminals of a AA battery. ECT is like throwing a cable over a high-tension electric powerline. Needless to say, both are electrical experiences but their effect on the person is drastically differrent.
TMS is a low-energy and highly focused procedure that's aimed at less than 1% of the brain mass. It's painless and in fact induces something of a tranquil state while it's being done. For me, TMS has produced a lasting elevation of mood and made me somewhat calmer overall.
ECT, on the other hand, is a very violent, high energy jolt to the whole brain. It induces seizures and it's so painful that people must be under general anesthesia. As you can see, none of that happens with TMS.
I'm aware that any tool that reaches into the brain and alters the way we think is scary. I guess it's not as scary for me because I have a good understanding of the electronic principles, and I'm seeing it unfold firsthand. And it's also exciting. The results I am seeing are truly like science fiction come to life.
For more of John's insights check out his blog Look Me in The Eye