University of Iowa researchers are seeing promising results of a new treatment for silencing the voices in the heads of people with schizophrenia. About one-percent of the population has the mental disorder and 60-to-70-percent of them have auditory hallucinations — unwanted sounds or voices others can’t hear. Dr. Del Miller, a U-of-I psychiatry professor, says the use of electro-magnets appears to do for some schizophreinics what medications don’t. Dr. Miller says the strong magnetic field, in the shape of a figure eight and about the size of two fists, is held over the patient’s head on the left side, just above and behind the left ear. The technique is called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Miller says the magnetism is focused on the region of the brain that’s used to hear and understand the spoken word. In people with schizophrenia, the voices or sounds are likely caused by that part of the brain being overactive, firing too fast and too much information like a short-circuit. Miller says the treatment “resets” that misfire and slows it down to a more normal level.Data from the studies shows some people who’ve had no relief from medicines or anything else, Miller says the magnetic force has significantly reduced the voices. People 18 and older with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who have auditory hallucinations on a daily basis are eligible for the study. For more information, call 800-777-8442.
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