Quiet Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Status and Future Directions

Angel V Peterchev, David Murphy, Stefan Goetz



Invited session papers


06. Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering


08:30 - 10:00 | Wed 26 Aug | Amber 7 | 6.2

Noninvasive Brain Stimulation: Modeling, Techniques and Mechanisms


A significant limitation of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is that the magnetic pulse delivery is associated with a loud clicking sound as high as 140 dB resulting from electromagnetic forces. The loud noise significantly impedes both basic research and clinical applications of TMS. It effectively makes TMS less focal since every click activates auditory cortex, brainstem, and other connected regions, synchronously with the magnetic pulse. The repetitive clicking sound can induce neuromodulation that can interfere with and confound the intended effects at the TMS target. As well, there are known concerns regarding blinding of TMS studies, hearing loss, induction of tinnitus, as well as tolerability. Addressing this need, we are developing a quiet TMS (qTMS)device that incorporates two key concepts: First, the dominant frequency components of the TMS pulse sound (typically 2–5 kHz) are shifted to higher frequencies that are above the human hearing upper threshold of about 20 kHz. Second, the TMS coil is designed electrically and mechanically to generate suprathreshold electric field pulses while minimizing the sound emitted at audible frequencies (< 20 kHz). The enhanced acoustic properties of the coil are accomplished with a novel, layered coil design. We summarize a proof-of-concept qTMS prototype demonstrating noise loudness reduction by 19 dB(A) with ultrabrief pulses at conventional amplitudes. Further, we outline next steps to accomplish further sound reduction and suprathreshold pulse amplitudes.

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