Revisiting Hemispheric Asymmetry in Mood Regulation: Implications for rTMS for Major Depressive Disorder

Source: Brain Sciences. 12(1) (no pagination), 2022. Article Number: 112.

Date of Publication: January 2022.
Authors: Gibson B.C.; Vakhtin A.; Clark V.P.; Abbott C.C.; Quinn D.K.

Abstract: Hemispheric differences in emotional processing have been observed for
over half a century, leading to multiple theories classifying differing roles for the right and left hemisphere in emotional processing. Conventional acceptance of these theories has had lasting clinical implications for the treatment of mood disorders. The theory that the left hemisphere is broadly associated with positively valenced emotions, while the right hemisphere is broadly associated with negatively valenced emotions, drove the initial application of repetitive transcranial
magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Subsequent rTMS research has led to improved response rates while adhering to the same initial paradigm of administering excitatory rTMS to the left prefrontal cortex (PFC) and inhibitory rTMS to the right PFC. However, accumulating evidence points to greater similarities in emotional regulation between the hemispheres than previously theorized, with potential implications for how rTMS for MDD may be delivered and optimized in the near future. This review will catalog the range of measurement modalities that have been used to explore and describe hemispheric differences, and highlight evidence that updates and advances knowledge of TMS targeting and parameter selection. Future directions for research are proposed that may advance precision medicine and improve efficacy of TMS for MDD.