The advantages of neurostimulation brain stimulation techniques

Neuromodulation includes a set of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques that make it possible to modify the functioning of brain regions that are not responding correctly.
Within neuromodulation, the most commonly used are Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Direct Current Electrical Stimulation.

What do neuromodulation techniques consist of?

In the case of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a magnetic field is generated which, when positioned or directed to the tissue, generates changes in the excitability of the cortical neurons that are under the magnetic field by electromagnetic induction.
On the other hand, in Electrical Stimulation by direct current, the usual procedure is to place two electrodes directed to a low intensity current. In this way, the probability of activation of neurons in one of the regions is decreased and the probability of activation in another cortical region is increased.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation increases or decreases cortical excitability depending on the protocol used, while Direct Current Electrical Stimulation modifies the excitability threshold of neurons.

What do neuromodulation techniques consist of?

In the case of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, the necessary intensity of the magnetic field is calculated to generate responses in the patient’s brain. It is performed in the motor cortex and seeks to depolarize the neurons that are responsible for the movement of the patient’s hand or leg muscles (depending on the stimulation protocol to be used). In this way, we will know what intensity achieves response in the cortical motor neurons.

See also  Dare with oneself to experience the freedom of being

From this point on, the protocol is individualized to be applied to different conditions and pathologies. In other words, depending on the clinical diagnosis, the appropriate procedure is chosen and the stimulation and intensity of the magnetic field is individualized.

On the other hand, an electrophysiological study is usually performed to determine the patient’s brain activity patterns and to rule out a possible risk of epilepsy.

Are they safe treatments?

Both techniques are well tolerated by patients and the adverse effects are very small. The most common is that after applying neuromodulation procedures there is some muscle tension in frontal areas, which disappears after 2 or 3 stimulation sessions.

The most serious adverse effect is epileptic seizures, where the greatest risk is found in patients who have epilepsy or who have a family with first-degree epilepsy.
In general, if clinical procedures are properly followed, the risk is minimal and very rare.

Treatment of addictions

In the case of addictions, whatever the type, there is a common substrate and that is that the nervous substrate of the reinforcement is not working properly. That is to say, there is an anomalous activation of the nucleus accumbens and a hypoactivation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

As we said, neurostimulation treatment is aimed at increasing the excitability of the cortex, which increases the level of activation. In addition, the pattern of fronto-striatal connectivity can be modified, thus modifying the level of activation of the nucleus accumbens. These results, in the context of addictions, are positive in three aspects:
1- It increases the patient’s impulse control.
2- It decreases the desire for addictive behavior.
3- Helps regulate mood, which in many cases is affected.

See also  Family therapy to resolve conflicts and promote closeness

The results of neuromodulation

In the case of addictions, a protocol that has shown great efficacy requires 24 stimulation sessions. The effect of the stimulation is usually seen at the end of the treatment or 2 months after finishing it. With neurostimulation, brain plasticity mechanisms are modified and it takes time.

Neuromodulation and psychological therapy

Neuromodulation can be used in isolation, i.e. it does not require psychological or pharmacological therapy to be clinically effective. However, when a patient is following a drug treatment, it is maintained, since both treatments together are convenient and safe.

In the case of psychological therapy, it is not necessary, although it may accompany neuromodulation treatments. In fact, both can increase each other’s efficacy when applied at the same time, and synergistic effects are found.