Effects of Intermittent Theta-Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Cognition and Hippocampal Volumes in Bipolar Depression

SOURCE: Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 25(1):24-32, 2023 12.

AUTHORS: Torres IJ; Ge R; McGirr A; Vila-Rodriguez F; Ahn S; Basivireddy J; Walji N; Frangou S; Lam RW; Yatham LN

INTRODUCTION: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is increasingly used to treat neurocognitive symptoms in mood disorders. Intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) is a brief version of TMS that may preferentially target cognitive functions. This study evaluated whether iTBS leads to cognitive improvements and associated increased hippocampal volumes in bipolar depression.

METHODS: In a two-site double-blind randomised sham controlled trial (NCT02749006), 16 patients received active iTBS to the Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPF) and 15 patients received sham stimulation across four weeks. A composite neuropsychological score and declarative memory scores served as the cognitive outcomes. Hippocampal volumes were derived from T1 weighted MRI scans using the longitudinal ComBat method to harmonise data across sites.

RESULTS: No significant improvements were observed in any cognitive variables in the active relative to the sham group; however, there was a trend for increased left hippocampal volume in the former. Left hippocampal volume increases were associated with improvements in nonverbal memory in the active group.

CONCLUSIONS: Although cognitive improvements were not associated with iTBS, the finding that hippocampal volume increases were associated with memory improvement suggests there may be some level of prefrontal-temporal neuroplasticity that could support cognitive change in future studies of iTBS in bipolar disorder.

LINK TO FULL ARTICLE: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10026761/