Application of transcranial magnetic stimulation for major depression: Coil design and neuroanatomical variability considerations

Journal: European Neuropsychopharmacology (2019)

Authors: S Zibman, G.S Pell, N Barnea-Ygael, Y Roth, A Zangen


High-frequency repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as a treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) has received FDA clearance for both the figure-of-8 coil (figure-8 coil) and the H1 coil. The FDA-clearedMDD protocols for both coils include high frequency (10–18 Hz) stimulation targeting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) at an intensity that is 120% of the right-hand resting motor threshold. Despite these similar parameters, the two coils generate distinct electrical fields (e-fields) which result in differences in the cortical stimulation they produce. Due to the differences in coil designs, the H1 coil induces a stimulation e-field that is broader and deeper than the one induced by the figure-8 coil.


In this paper, the authors review theoretical and clinical implications of these differences between the two coils and compare evidence of their safety and efficacy in treating MDD.


The authors searched PubMed and Embaseto examine the effectiveness of rTMS administered to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on this specific cognitive domain.


The authorspresent the design principles of the coils, the challenges of identifying, finding, and stimulating the optimal brain target of each individual (both from functional and connectivity perspectives), and the possible implication of stimulating outside that target. There is only one study that performed a direct comparison between clinical effectiveness of the two coils, using the standard FDA-approved protocols in MDD patients. This study indicated clinical superiority of the H1 coil but did not measure long-term effects. Post-marketing data suggest that both coils have a similar safety profile in clinical practice, whereas effect size comparisons of the two respective FDA pivotal trials suggests that the H1 coil may have an advantage in efficacy.


Further head-to-head experiments are needed, especially ones that will compare long-term effects and usage of similar temporal stimulation parameters and similar number of pulses.

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