transcranial magnetic stimulator

Didier A. Depireux didier at
Fri Sep 11 07:58:32 EST 1998

cpr (bug at wrote:
: In "Phantoms in the Brain", by Dr. Ramachandran he speaks of an easily made
: unit for stimulating specific parts of the brain.  It is called a
: transcranial magnetic stimulator.
It is basically a magnet, but generating a magnetic field many times what you
can easily get with a permanent magnet. It's therefore a simple piece of
equipment, but it involves very high voltages so don't try this at home. The
only real use I have seen made of it was for the treatment of depression.
Apparently, if you stimulate some part of frontal or prefrontal cortex (I
don't remember which) you _can_ get a temporary release from types of 
depression that a resistant to more conventional forms of treatment. The only
person I have met who has used a transcranial stimulator is Llinas, who tried
it on various parts of his brain and reported getting strange feelings from
it, like unexpected input to the brain. It's like being on drugs for a short
while and without the drugs, I guess. 

I do know that in the early days of MRI, there would occasionally be power
outages and the person whose brain was inside the scanner would report strange
experiences and feelings. 


Didier A Depireux                              didier at
Neural Systems Lab       
Institute for Systems Research          Phone: 301-405-6557 (off)
University of Maryland                                -6596 (lab)
College Park MD 20742 USA                     Fax: 1-301-314-9920

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