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Temporoparietal Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Auditory Hallucinations: Safety, Efficacy and Moderators in a Fifty Patient Sample

      Background

      Auditory hallucinations are often resistant to treatment and can produce significant distress and behavioral difficulties. A preliminary report based on 24 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder indicated greater improvement in auditory hallucinations following 1-hertz left temporoparietal repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) compared to sham stimulation. Data from the full 50-subject sample incorporating 26 new patients are now presented to more comprehensively assess safety/tolerability, efficacy and moderators of this intervention.

      Methods

      Right-handed patients experiencing auditory hallucinations at least 5 times per day were randomly allocated to receive either rTMS or sham stimulation. A total of 132 minutes of rTMS was administered over 9 days at 90% motor threshold using a double-masked, sham-controlled, parallel design.

      Results

      Hallucination Change Score was more improved for rTMS relative to sham stimulation (p = .008) as was the Clinical Global Impressions Scale (p = .0004). Hallucination frequency was significantly decreased during rTMS relative to sham stimulation (p = .0014) and was a moderator of rTMS effects (p = .008). There was no evidence of neurocognitive impairment associated with rTMS.

      Conclusions

      Left temporoparietal 1-hertz rTMS warrants further study as an intervention for auditory hallucinations. Data suggest that this intervention selectively alters neurobiological factors determining frequency of these hallucinations.

      Key Words

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