A study has found that magnets can be used in cocaine addicts to stave off cravings. A technique named trans-cranial magnetic stimulation involves the patient sitting in a chair as doctors wax a wand over their head. This fires magnetic waves into the patient’s head, specifically entering the prefrontal cortex.
The results of the study on 29 cocaine addicts show that stimulation treatment can significantly cut down cocaine use and cravings. The findings were published in the European journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Eagerness is tremendous considering there is no effective treatment for cocaine addiction. Meanwhile, there is a theoretical explanation as to why brain stimulation with magnets may achieve the desired results.
The study showed strong patient improvement, and while this is still a preliminary study, it gives hope for people who only had cognitive therapy and psychological support to look forward to. Stanford University addiction researcher Rob Malenka says this method is a “logical extension” of the technology, which is also a component in treating persistent depression problems.
TMS was only approved by the FDA as a treatment for depression in 2008. How it works is still a mystery to many involved, but addiction seems to cause the same signaling patterns in the brain, which make people seek out the drug compulsively. And TMS can demonstrably disrupt the pattern, much the same way as noise can disrupt a radio signal. One study shows that for addicts, some areas of the prefrontal cortex only light up in the presence of the drug. This may be affecting the decision-making centers in the brain, which is what blinds drug users to its pitfalls.
The treatment method being perfected intends to use powerful magnets to stimulate a brain area called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Scanning has shown that the effects of this move outwards, the same as water pouring over an umbrella. Right now, interest is growing in the potential application of magnetism to cure patients and prevent them from seeking out the drug they wish to be free of.
This just goes to show that magnets are one of the most wonderful things in existence. Many of their possible applications in various fields point to a multitude, which may still lie undiscovered. Meanwhile for the average person, magnetic beads and similar toys are great fun to fiddle with. Don’t deny their appeal. Get yourself a Buckyballs set today.