Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the medial prefrontal cortex for psychiatric disorders: a systematic review


Braz. J. Psychiatry




Objective: The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is a highly connected cortical region that acts as a hub in major large-scale brain networks. Its dysfunction is associated with a number of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, depression, substance use disorder (SUD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety disorders. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) studies targeting the mPFC indicate that it may be a useful therapeutic resource in psychiatry due to its selective modulation of this area and connected regions. Methods: This review examines six mPFC rTMS trials selected from 697 initial search results. We discuss the main results, technical and methodological details, safety, tolerability, and localization strategies. Results: Six different protocols were identified, including inhibitory (1 Hz) and excitatory (5, 10, and 20 Hz) frequencies applied therapeutically to patient populations diagnosed with major depressive disorder, OCD, autistic spectrum disorder, SUD, specific phobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the OCD and acrophobia trials, rTMS significantly reduced symptoms compared to placebo. Conclusion: These protocols were considered safe and add interesting new evidence to the growing body of mPFC rTMS literature. However, the small number and low methodological quality of the studies indicate the need for further research.

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