In-vivo MRI study of the effects of low-intensity rTMS on brain activity, chemistry and structure in rats.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive neuromodulation technique, which has brain network-level effects in healthy individuals and has shown therapeutic potential in many neurological and psychiatric conditions. Despite the fact that rTMS is being used in a clinical setting and animal studies are increasingly identifying potential cellular and molecular mechanisms, little is known about how these mechanisms relate to clinical changes. This knowledge gap is amplified by non-overlapping approaches used in preclinical and clinical rTMS studies: preclinical studies are mostly invasive, using cellular and molecular approaches, while clinical studies use non-invasive methods, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and behavioural measures.
Given that rodents are widely used as preclinical models of various neuropsychiatric disorders, a thorough understanding of how rTMS affects rodent neural activity is of particular importance for both interpreting rodent MRI data and, more broadly, translating findings between animal models and humans.
Bhedita’s project combines rTMS with non-invasive imaging with the aim to provide a more direct comparison to human studies and reveal new insights into some of the potential mechanisms by which rTMS may alter plasticity within the brain. fMRI will be used to visualise and compare both short and long term neural connectivity changes induced by rTMS in rats.