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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Increase Executive Function in Older Adults


In this study researchers are investigating the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to enhance working memory performance in older adults.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
18 Years 80 Years All Yes
August 15, 2016
September 30, 2020

  • Younger group: 18 to 35 years old; older group: 60 to 80 years old
  • Use of effective method of birth control for women of childbearing capacity
  • Willing to provide informed consent

  • Substance abuse or dependence in past 6 months
  • Current serious medical illness
  • History of seizure, epilepsy, stroke, brain surgery, head injury, cranial metal implants, known structural brain lesion, or devices that may be affected by repetitive TMS or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including pacemaker, medication pump, cochlear implant, or implanted brain stimulator
  • Diagnosed Axis I disorder
  • Dementia Rating Scale-2 score of less than 8
  • Clinically defined neurological disorder
  • Increased risk of seizure for any reason, including prior diagnosis of increased intracranial pressure, or currently taking medication that lowers the seizure threshold
  • Claustrophobia (MRI scanner)
  • Pregnancy

TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate the brain. Researchers will first stimulate areas of the cerebral cortex in both older and younger healthy adults while they perform a working memory task to identify the optimal area of the brain to stimulate. Older adults will then be randomly assigned to either an active or sham stimulation while performing the working memory task. Researchers will compare reaction time and accuracy between the two groups.

An additional 60 participants are being recruited for a supplemental trial.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
Duke University Medical Center
Durham North Carolina 27705

Duke University

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Name Role Affiliation
Lawrence Appelbaum Principal Investigator Duke University

Name Phone Email
Susan A Hilbig 9196845939


Using fMRI-guided TMS to Increase Central Executive Function in Older Adults