Brain Imaging Center
LFMS: Low Field Magnetic Stimulation
At McLean Hospital, we have recently discovered significant mood effects made by weak, changing magnetic fields. This discovery was made in an MRI system during research studies on human volunteers, and has been recently published in the January 1st, 2004 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry (abstract). This article cannot be duplicated here for copyright reasons, but can be obtained through a library. A summary of the relevant information from this study is contained in this website. Further information about this effect and the research performed so far is contained in this website.
Clinically, this study is very preliminary – there is no information about its general effectiveness in a patient population or about the duration of the effect.
Ways to Interact with this Website
- If you are interested in future research volunteer opportunities, read the information in this web page and respond using the secure form page (https://secure.mclean.harvard.edu/mri_lfms/) or by a phone call to (617) 855-3885.
- If you are involved in research in this area and are interested in further communication, please respond with an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and indicate in the subject line that you have research interests.
- If you are interested in business opportunities, contact Anne Ritter email@example.com, Licensing Manager, Partners Research Ventures and Licensing at (617) 954-9529.
This effect called "Low Field Magnetic Stimulation" is thought to be linked to the changing magnetic fields of the "gradient coils" in the MR system, and their corresponding induced electric fields. These fields are very small (less than 1 Volt/meter, less than 10 Gauss) and are delivered in short pulses at about 1000 pulses per second. This effect was duplicated in animals using a small, head-sized coil outside or the MR system. In this way, we know that the static magnetic field of the MRI system is not responsible.
The MR scan linked to this effect is a very non-standard scan that is not used in other MR systems. The effect was not seen in volunteers that had standard MR scans, nor was it seen in normal volunteers that had the EP-MRSI scan.
This was a limited study that was performed in depressed subjects with bipolar disorder, and the study was performed only on the days of the MR session. Because of this, we have no information about the duration of the effect or its significance in major depression or other disorders. These topics will be the subject of future studies.
Future Research Studies
There is not a research study in magnetic stimulation treatments for depression at McLean Hospital at this time, but one is being considered later this year. If this is successfully started, volunteers from the contact list on this website will be considered for participation. No information about possible inclusion criteria, monetary considerations or schedule is available at this time.
This experimental procedure is not available at any other site. Several other magnetic stimulation and electrical treatments for depression and other disorders can be found, but these do not employ the same mechanisms as this procedure and are not endorsed or evaluated here.
The research done at McLean Hospital into this effect has taken place in two studies. The primary study, published in the Jan 1 2004 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, took place during 2000-2002 at McLean hospital, and involved over 50 human volunteers. The results and details of this study are summarized here.
An independent presentation of some human results was made at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Biological Psychiatry in May 2002. This presentation can be seen here.
Following the discovery of this effect, a table-top sized investigational system was assembled at McLean Hospital for a study in an animal model, in collaboration with the Laboratory for Behavioral Genetics at McLean Hospital. This study confirmed that the effect can be duplicated outside of the MR system, using a table-top sized magnetic stimulation system. Results of this study can be seen here.
All human studies performed at McLean Hospital are done in compliance with the McLean Human Studies IRB and informed consent was obtained from all volunteers.