The Application of Trans-Cranial Magnetic Stimulation to Improve Memory


Remembering events of the past in detail can present a difficulty for most, especially if they involve a complex set of actions, dialogues, or behaviors. For example, remembering whether one has locked the door after leaving for work is manageable, but recalling whether you’ve also turned off the stove can be more complicated. For some, the process of remembering can be even more difficult, due to extenuating circumstances. Hospital patients with advanced memory disorders whose treatment has been under research as scientists strive to improve memory recall capacity are one such example (Patel et al., 2020). Those suffering from memory disorders are often faced with an inability to lead their daily lives and be an effective part of society, presenting a danger to both themselves and others. To present a way for affected patients to lead more fulfilling lives a medical intervention is necessary. By using modern medicine and technology, doctors and other medical specialists can alleviate the severity of symptoms faced by people with memory disorders. An efficient way to fulfill this is to use non-invasive techniques to trigger brain stimulation (Pitcher et al., 2021). Brain stimulation can allow medical professionals to activate the parts of the brain associated with memory, and allow the patient to better remember and recall events.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has a coil that generates a magnetic field that triggers specific brain areas. The magnet is turned on and off in rapid succession, although this generates loud noises which require patients to wear earplugs. It can be combined with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to treat mental disorders such as depression (Koch et al., 2018). Other conditions that can be treated with these techniques are chronic pain, eating disorders, migraine, and stroke damage. TMS is effective in memory and learning and improves people’s ability to perform mental tasks, especially those involving discerning visual patterns.

The recent years have been characterized by increased technological research, much of which has been on understanding the normal activity of the brain and its pathological conditions. These technological advances have been instrumental in attaining therapeutic goals such as electrophysiology, one of the impressive achievements of brain stimulation. Noohi & Amirsalari (2016) argue that fundamental research is being conducted on brain stimulation methods. Various methods of applying an advanced stimulus include Transcranial Electric Stimulation (TES), Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS), and Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (TRNS), among others. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a method that has garnered a good reputation in recent years. From the historical point of view, TMS was first brought up and described by A. Barker, in a paper that argued that electrical energy and the magnetic field are the same. Initial TMS was made in the UK. In 1985, Barker scientifically proved the influence magnetic stimulation has on the human brain (Noohi & Amirsalari 2016). However, the initial method was slow and could easily lead to raising the coil’s temperature. Due to technological advancement, the application of TMS has been easy, with it being used to address the repeated pulses to a specific part of the brain. The first application of this method was limited to the diagnosis of neuro-motor disorders. Before the recognition of this method’s effectiveness in addressing memory issues, scientists believed that it lead to an effect similar to that of antidepressants.

In 2002, a group of medical researchers approved the TMS application, terming it beneficial in addressing memory issues among the patients (Noohi & Amirsalari 2016). Such countries as Japan, Germany, and the UK, have been utilizing this method on patients for around 20 years, and electromagnetic induction tech has been developed to regulate the TMS method when applied to different patients. For example, these devices can increase or decrease the magnetic energy in the cortical areas. They are also modified to fit the treatment of various psychological disorders best.

Application of TMS

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a technique that can be effectively used for brain stimulation and has been in utilization for the last few decades. Being a non-invasive brain stimulation, TMS is increasingly being used as an effective way of studying and modifying brain function. This technique has two functionality areas, one of them being perturbing the brain (Luber et al., 2013). This perturbation of the brain can be observed through brain imaging, changes in behaviors, and electrophysiological measures. This allows TMS to be both experimental in exploring the neural function and clinical, especially when it comes to diagnosis.

TMS is said to have the capacity of allowing the relationship between the brain and behavior to be established causally, other than being correlational. The second area of functionality is the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases. Instead of this, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approved TMS for the treatment of depression (Luber et al., 2013). The technique has been documented to have the capacity to address other neuropsychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. TMS alters the cortical brain activity in treating these disorders, thus emitting brief pulses of current by stimulating the coil held on the head. The current flow lasts for a short period and rapidly produces a changing magnetic field around the coil. The produced magnetic field induces a current in the cortical tissue that later stimulates neurons in the focal region. This sees a reduction of the magnetic field’s strength as it passes the skull and brain tissue, and it depolarizes neurons up to 2 cm. The effects depend on the frequency of the stimulation.

Functional Mechanism of TMS And How It Achieves Its Results

TMS is a promising non-invasive treatment for a variety of conditions, including suppression, acute mania, and bipolar disorder. The technique offers the potential for higher efficacy and relatively lower levels of pharmacotherapy. As a result of this, the importance of this technique is exponentially increasing. For instance, a recent study shows that Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) has been effectively addressed through TMS use (Ruiz et al., 2018). Concerning the application of this technique to the cure of MDD, a condition that is highly associated with memory loss, the main aim is to enhance neural activity.

On the current evidence on the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation and its potential usefulness, it has been observed that this technique is far much important than other medical practices. The research conducted by Ruiz et al. (2018) shows that once TMS is repetitively applied, it serves as an effective post-stroke rehabilitation process. TMS is argued to have a positive effect on the brain’s capacity for retaining natural circuits and the acquisition of new skills. For many years, medical practitioners have aimed to identify therapeutic ways of addressing the stroke health condition. TMS has emerged as the only technique that can diligently address the situation.

TMS has also been viewed as an effective technique for alleviating depression. Brain imaging has been combined with TMS to produce better effects.

Depression has been linked to memory problems such as forgetfulness and confusion. It can also lead to poor memory or short-term memory loss. In a standard treatment of depression, the patient is scanned with a single-photon emission that is usually computed with tomography (Ruiz et al., 2018). This has a slower effect as compared to the application of the TMS treatment technique that has a more substantial impact on brain regions, including the anterior cingulated cortex. Major depression is highly associated with memory loss and has been today’s focus as far as the TMS clinical trials are concerned. Initially, non-focal coils were being administered over the vertex and found to have an adverse health effect on the patient.

Based on the evidence for abnormalities that depression condition presents, it was thought that TMS, over other treatment procedures, could produce more positive results as far as memory disorders are concerned. To test this hypothesis, Ruiz et al. (2018) reported that TMS presents antidepressant effects that other treatment mechanisms such as cognitive and interpersonal therapy could not present using a within-participant crossover design. This remarkable result is superior to what could be expected within the medical field and offers valuable insights into the application of TMS in curing other health conditions. Although the technique has been viewed as effective, there are suggestions that a longer duration of the TMS application may result in a more significant improvement. The frequency applied should also be smaller because lowered frequencies carry less risk of seizure. By comparing low and high frequencies being utilized in TMS, research shows that participants who receive lower frequencies are likely to fare better.

The Capacity of TMS to Transform Memory Improvement

The use of TMS has allowed scientists and researchers to understand the relationship between people’s behavior and their brains. Further research needs to be made to better manipulate and utilize the TMS. To this aim, innovations need to be advanced on these methods so that they can be effective in addressing memory issues. When the TMS method is conducted correctly, it can be a safe and painless technique in which electromagnetic currents are induced in the brain. During the application of this method, an electoral current is passed through an insulated coil and produces magnetic pulses responsible for the production of neural firing (Yeh & Rose, 2019). It also produces currents that cause rapid depolarization of neurons under the coil with a relatively higher spatial precision level. Action potentials can trigger interconnected brain regions during the stimulation.

The amount of time between pulses dictates differences between TMS. Both intensity and frequency are important to achieving the right effect. With the help of multimodal techniques and the technological machine learning analysis, it has been easy to understand the relationship between the anatomical and the functioning of various brain regions (Yeh & Rose, 2019). In other words, the stimulation leads to the interaction with multiple neural activity patterns to facilitate changes in both cognition and people’s behavior.

TMS has become a popular method due to the feasibility of brain activity. The technique can give more context to the role of brain regions, and how they modify behavior in human beings. Research shows that this method has an afar reaching implications for developing treatments for people suffering from a memory disorder (Yeh & Rose, 2019).

In this regard, the understanding of the TMS protocols for enhancing memory is essential in achieving the clinical application of the method (Yeh & Rose, 2019). Routine clinical investigation of the use of the TMS method in addressing memory disorders needs to be prioritized. However, that does not change the fact that this method is far much impactful than other forms when addressing memory disorders. There are no acute adverse effects that have been associated with this method, and most of the positive findings have increased the use of this method. In any case, research on TMS suggests that this method can exert both short and long-term effects. TMS, consequently, may be incremental to advancing the scientific understanding of neural systems, and their influence on treatment.


Further studies presently need to be conducted on the range of disorders addressable through TMS. Additionally, this method’s application should be precise and address multiple questions such as how long the effect of TMS remains and whether it can be solely applied during acute treatment. Other than safety concerns, it is proper to argue that the risk-reward ratio of using this can be subjective, as well as the overall function of the technique. Currently, there is no information on the training instruction for the application of TMS. However, it is a highly recommended method that physicians should emphasize to expand their knowledge of technical information, psychological laws, and safety provisions. Nonetheless, TMS administration has proved to be helpful, especially for individuals who suffer from memory disorders. Through electromagnetic induction, it generates an electric current in the brain without any physical contact. Although safety concerns may mar this method, many healthcare professionals consider its application and see a bright future for it.


Koch, G., Bonnì, S., Pellicciari, M. C., Casula, E. P., Mancini, M., Esposito, R., Ponzo, V., Picazio, S., Di Lorenzo, F., Serra, L., Motta, C., Maiella, M., Marra, C., Cercignani, M., Martorana, A., Caltagirone, C., &Bozzali, M. (2018). Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the precuneus enhances memory and neural activity in prodromal Alzheimer’s disease. NeuroImage, 169, 302–311. Web.

Noohi, S., & Amirsalari, S. (2016). History, studies and specific uses of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in treating epilepsy. Iranian Journal of Child Neurology, 10(1), 1.

Patel, R., Silla, F., Pierce, S., Theule, J., & Girard, T. A. (2020). Before and after repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), cognitive functioning is a quantitative meta-analysis in healthy adults. Neuropsychologia, 141, 107395. Web.

Pitcher, D., Parkin, B., & Walsh, V. (2021). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and the understanding of behaviour. Annual Review of Psychology, 72. Web.

Ruiz, M. L., Sarasa, M. R., RodrĂ­guez, L. S., Benito-LeĂłn, J., Ristol, E. G. A., & Arce, S. A. (2018). Current evidence on transcranial magnetic stimulation and its potential usefulness in post-stroke neurorehabilitation: Opening new doors to cerebrovascular disease treatment. NeurologĂ­a (English Edition), 33(7), 459-472.

Yeh, N., & Rose, N. S. (2019). How Can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Be Used to Modulate Episodic Memory?: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 993.

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