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Electromagnetic Stimulation Reorganises Brain

Electromagnetic stimulation can alter the brain’s organisation and make it work better, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Researchers from The University of Western Australia and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France demonstrated that weak sequential electromagnetic pulses known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation can shift abnormal neural connections to more normal locations.

The discovery has important implications for the treatment of many nervous system disorders related to abnormal brain organisation, such as depression, epilepsy and tinnitus.

The researchers tested a low-intensity version of the therapy on mice born with abnormal brain organisation. They found that low intensity pulses of magnetic stimulation could shift neural connections towards their correct locations in the brain.

“This reorganisation is associated with changes in a specific brain chemical, and occurred in several brain regions across a whole network,” said lead author Kalina Makowiecki. “Importantly, this structural reorganisation was not seen in the healthy brain or the appropriate connections in the abnormal mice, suggesting that the therapy could have minimal side-effects in humans.

“Our findings greatly increase our understanding of the specific cellular and molecular events that occur in the brain during this therapy, and have implications for how best to use it in humans to treat disease and improve brain function,” Makowiecki said.