clinical research

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for the Treatment of Depression - Research Study Information


In rTMS therapy, a device called a stimulator provides electrical energy to a magnetic coil that delivers a magnetic field. When the coil is placed against the scalp on the left front region of the head, the magnetic field is focused to a region of the brain that is thought to be involved in depression. This study tests the theory that the electromagnetic field created by the coil affects this region of the brain in a way that may improve the symptoms of depression.  This may affect brain activity and function.

The study is in three parts. The first part requires daily (M-F) visits to your study doctor over a 3 to 6-week period. Each session will last about one to one and a half hours. The total time in the first part may be up to 7 weeks. You will be randomly assigned to either active (real) rTMS or sham (placebo) rTMS. You may or may not respond to the treatments provided. In either case, you will be given the option to continue in a follow-up study. Responders can choose to enter a 6-month maintenance study (Phase III) and non-responders can choose to enter a 3- to 6-week study where all patients receive active rTMS (Phase II). Patients who respond to the 3- to 6-week active rTMS treatment may then go on to the 6-month maintenance study as well.  rTMS treatments will not be available after your completion of the studies, even if you respond to treatment. At various time points, you will be asked questions about your memory and depression and receive other tests. All of our services are provided free of charge.


  • Adults with Depression
  • Must have tried antidepressant medications and found them ineffective
  • Must be tapered off medications prior to entry in the study
  • Women cannot be pregnant and must be using an effective form of birth control

Benefits to participant

  • Free clinical evaluation by a psychiatrist
  • Free brain scan (MRI) and memory testing during the study
  • No-cost outpatient services

For More Information

For more information about participating, or if you have questions about the study, please contact:

The Brain Behavior Clinic Coordinator at 212-543-5767 or e-mail us at depression@columbia.edu. You will be asked several screening questions over the telephone to help determine if you may be eligible for the study.

Study FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)


New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew York-PresbyterianThe Brain Stimulation & Therapeutic Modulation (BSTM) Division specializes in the use of emerging electromagnetic means of modulation brain function to study and treat psychiatric disorders. Columbia University Medical CenterDivision of Brain Stimulation & Therapeutic Modulation Home