TMS is a top-notch neurostimulation technique with promising impact on treatment resistant major depression disorder and other neuropsychiatric conditions. Based on experiences in interleaved TMS/fMRI, this project will develop an optimized treatment system that is easy to handle by clinical practitioners and tailored for each individual patient’s needs.

Eingereicht von: Mag. rer. nat. Martin Tik
Firma/Universität: Medizinische Universität Wien

Over the last five years Mag. rer. nat. Martin Tik conducted intensive research on validation and optimization of brain stimulation methods. While his work as a Master student was dedicated to understanding effects of brain stimulation at a group level (Tik, et al., 2017a), his current mission is to calibrate brain stimulation to make it work and its effects measurable at an individual level (Navarro de Lara, et al., 2017; Tik, et al., 2017b).

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a tool applied in neuroenhancement research as well as in the therapy of pharmacotreatment-resistant patients suffering from major depressive disorder. It uses a coil that evokes rapidly switching magnetic fields, in order to trigger neural activation in focused cortical areas.
Although this method has low side-effects, has proven its effectiveness in depression treatment and is an FDA-approved intervention in the USA, its clinical application is still experimental in Austria. The main reason for this circumstance is scepticism in clinical practitioners, caused by its to date hard-to-handle application and the fact that still not all patients remit after treatment, because there are no guidelines on optimal dosing strategies and application loci.

The greater aim of Martin Tiks investigations is to develop a TMS system solution that can be easily applied by trained hospital staff, and which uses automated algorithms to optimize stimulation dosing and loci on the cortical surface.

For the purpose of serial manufacturing and international distribution of this TMS treatment system he is looking for a competitive company for cooperation. - Foto: (c) Martin TikBy now, his team has developed a novel setup, which allows for the usage of the TMS coil within a magnetic resonance scanner. They have optimized this system for flexible precisely navigated application on the subject’s scalp and high-resolution whole brain coverage. Furthermore, they have developed a highly sophisticated tracking system that allows for defining the patient’s head position relative to the stimulation coil at any time. This dramatically improves following up the correct stimulation focus. Through this ground-breaking intervention the research team are for the first time able to make highly-reliable functional images of brain activation changes during stimulation, and thereby

  1. understanding much more about the mechanisms of action of TMS as well as
  2. calibrating stimulation dose and frequencies to the individual’s need.

Although this set-up led to major advances in the field (presented at several international congresses), more investigations are need and strong business cooperation has to be launched in order to help as many people as possible in the future.