Neurocognitive effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in adolescents with major depressive disorder

Christopher A. Wall, Paul E. Croarkin, Shawn M. McClintock, Lauren L. Murphy, Lorelei A. Bandel, Leslie A. Sim, Shirlene M. Sampson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: It is estimated that 30-40% of adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) do not receive full benefit from current antidepressant therapies. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a novel therapy approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat adults with MDD. Research suggests rTMS is not associated with adverse neurocognitive effects in adult populations; however, there is no documentation of its neurocognitive effects in adolescents. This is a secondary post hoc analysis of neurocognitive outcome in adolescents who were treated with open-label rTMS in two separate studies. Methods: Eighteen patients (mean age, 16.2 ± 1.1 years; 11 females, 7 males) with MDD who failed to adequately respond to at least one antidepressant agent were enrolled in the study. Fourteen patients completed all 30 rTMS treatments (5 days/week, 120% of motor threshold, 10 Hz, 3,000 stimulations per session) applied to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Depression was rated using the Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised. Neurocognitive evaluation was performed at baseline and after completion of 30 rTMS treatments with the Children's Auditory Verbal Learning Test (CAVLT) and Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System Trail Making Test. Results: Over the course of 30 rTMS treatments, adolescents showed a substantial decrease in depression severity. Commensurate with improvement in depressive symptoms was a statistically significant improvement in memory and delayed verbal recall. Other learning and memory indices and executive function remained intact. Neither participants nor their family members reported clinically meaningful changes in neurocognitive function. Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest rTMS does not adversely impact neurocognitive functioning in adolescents and may provide subtle enhancement of verbal memory as measured by the CAVLT. Further controlled investigations with larger sample sizes and rigorous trial designs are warranted to confirm and extend these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 165
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - 2013


  • Adolescents
  • Depression
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Neurocognition
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurocognitive effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in adolescents with major depressive disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this