The Brain Stimulation Lab at MUSC

The Brain Stimulation Lab (BSL) within the Department of Psychiatry was started by Dr. Mark George 16 years ago. Since its inception, the BSL has been at the forefront of using brain stimulation techniques to treat and study neuropsychiatric disorders. Located on the 5th floor of the MUSC Institute of Psychiatry, the BSL has one of the most extensive collections of brain stimulation technologies in the world, including 3 ECT machines, 15 TMS machines, and numerous tDCS, VNS, and DBS systems. The mission of the division is to use advanced brain imaging methods to develop hypotheses about regional brain dysfunction in neuropsychiatric diseases and then to use the ever-expanding toolkit of brain stimulation methods to test whether these brain-behavior theories are correct. Where appropriate, we then perform translational clinical trials testing whether a particular form of brain stimulation may be a therapy for a specific disorder.

This approach has been quite successful over the life of the division, and several current treatments available in the US began within the division, or were fostered there in early studies. For example, daily left prefrontal TMS for treating depression was studied in the division since its inception. Additionally, the first depressed patient ever treated with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for that indication began in the BSL. The group was the first to show that TMS or VNS could be safely performed within the MRI scanner. Pioneering studies with TMS or tDCS were also launched within the division, as well as a novel form of invasive brain stimulation called epidural cortical stimulation (EpCS), and a new, more focal type of ECT (FEAST).

The BSL offers both clinical brain stimulation treatments and research study treatments. Every day, the BSL administers about 10 ECT treatments, 10 TMS treatments, and a variety of VNS, DBS, EpCS, and TDCS treatments. The BSL primarily offers treatments for depression. Currently, the BSL has 55 active studies examining topics such as treatment-resistant depression, tobacco craving, chronic pain, drug addiction, PTSD, suicide, and sleep disorders. The BSL has an active TMS laboratory as well located two blocks away within the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. The majority of the BSL studies utilize new brain stimulation techniques and neuroimaging methods.

Find a list of currently funded studies at the Brain Stimulation Lab.

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