Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects over 3 million Americans. Those who suffer from schizophrenia often lose touch with reality and suffer from hallucinations or hear voices. In fact, hearing voices is one of the primary indicators that someone is suffering from schizophrenia. Researchers have recently discovered that stimulating certain areas of the brain with pulses of magnetic energy can help alleviate the frequency of hearing voices.
The voices that schizophrenia patients hear originate from within the brain. They can threaten, criticize, and confuse schizophrenia sufferers, and their length and severity can exhaust patients. While the cause of these voices has not been conclusively determined, researchers speculated that they originate from an area within the left temporal lobe of the brain that has been shown to be involved with language.
Researchers used a technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to stimulate that section of the brain. TMS sends pulses of magnetic energy into the brain in a similar manner to MRI scans. Researchers studied 59 schizophrenia patients, subjecting just under half of them to TMS, with the others receiving a fake placebo-type treatment that was supposed to mimic TMS.
After twice-daily treatment for two weeks, the two groups of patients were reassessed. Of those patients who had received TMS, 34.6 percent experienced a significant reduction in hearing voices, versus 9.1 percent who received the fake treatment.
Not only did the study establish that TMS treatment could be effective in alleviating some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, but it also indicated that researchers were correct in their hypothesis that the left temporal lobe of the brain had some relationship to schizophrenia. That could help future research that targets that area of the brain in order to find further treatments for schizophrenia.