Neurostimulation is an evolving therapy for treatment-resistant depression that involves the application of electromagnetic stimuli (magnetic field or electric current) to the brain. Applied magnetic or electrical stimulus stimulates nerve cell activity and triggers the body’s natural biological response by releasing neurotransmitters – specialized chemicals that allow brain cells to communicate with each other. Brain stimulation modulates the firing pattern of nerve cells and stabilizes the interaction between different parts of the brain. The treatment is non-invasive, meaning that no surgery is required.
The Interventional Neuropsychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital carries out a number of research studies to explore the clinical efficacy and functional outcomes of the following brain stimulation treatments:
1) Temporal Interference Stimulation (TI)
2) Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
3) Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
The ultimate goal of this research is to develop novel clinical tools for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of treatment resistant depression. The studies explore how certain biological markers in the form of behavioural measures, EEG, or MRI can be used to clinically quantify and predict treatment response to brain stimulation. This research focuses on personalized medicine approaches and aims to determine optimal individual treatment parameters in each patient for the most beneficial outcome.
Below is a list of our current clinical trials, and the contact information for the study coordinator, who can answer any questions you may have about the study, including the referral and intake process. Research funds are available to cover the full cost of treatment for participants who wish to enroll in these trials.
Temporal Interference (TI) for Depression
Temporal Interference (TI) stimulation is a novel promising form of non-invasive transcranial electrical stimulation that is the first of its kind to stimulate brain regions located deep below the surface. Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques have been around for several decades but their application has been limited to the superficial regions of the brain. Depression, however, is known to also be associated with a brain region called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex which is located deep below the surface. The potential ability of TI to target this region offers a promising potential in advancing scientific knowledge of brain function and offers an emerging therapeutic application for major depression.
“Take-Home” Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for Depression
Bilateral functional electrical stimulation (FES) of the facial muscles involves stimulating specific facial muscles with an FES device and is being investigated as a potential novel intervention for major depressive disorder (MDD). Applying FES on specific facial muscles related to smile patterns may result in better control of emotions and mood elevation. FES is a low-risk, non-invasive technique which causes muscles to contract using electrical current. The purpose of this study is to learn whether FES of the facial muscles is effective in treating MDD and to develop a model (personalized 3D printed mask and programmable stimulator) for take-home delivery.
In this study, we will be applying FES to specific facial muscles. This electrical current may cause gradual, long-lasting changes in brain activity levels due to the physiological connection existing between facial muscles and the brain.