Objectives: There are currently no biomedical treatments targeting the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Considering evidence for cortical dysfunction in ASD, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been discussed as a potential therapeutic technique.
Methods: We describe the application of a new type of rTMS, deep rTMS, to the bilateral medial prefrontal cortex in a young woman with a high-functioning ASD. High-frequency rTMS was applied for 15 minutes each consecutive weekday for an 11-day period (9 treatments in total). Self-reported assessments were conducted before the first rTMS session, immediately after the last rTMS session, and 1-month after the last rTMS session.
Results: Self-reported assessments revealed a number of improvements after deep rTMS. These were primarily in the domain of social relating and interpersonal understanding and were corroborated by family members.
Conclusions: Deep rTMS in ASD may serve to remediate aspects of cortical dysfunction (as standard rTMS seems to do in depression and schizophrenia) and provides a potential new avenue for the development of a biomedical treatment of impaired social relating in ASD.
From the *Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University and The Alfred, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and †Department of Neurobiology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.
Received for publication May 18, 2010; accepted July 5, 2010.
Reprints: Peter G. Enticott, PhD, Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, The Alfred, Level 1, Old Baker Bldg, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
PF has previously received support for participation in a research study from Neuronetics Ltd and equipment for research from MagVenture A/S. Part of the equipment used to provide deep repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation was provided to PF by Brainsway Inc (Jerusalem, Israel), a company that develops nonsurgical equipment for deep transcranial magnetic stimulation. AZ has financial interest in Brainsway Inc.