Brief Report| Volume 28, ISSUE 11, P1195-1199, November 2020

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iTBS to Relieve Depression and Executive Dysfunction in Older Adults: An Open Label Study

Published:March 07, 2020DOI:


      • What is the Primary Question addressed by this study?
      • This study examines the feasibility and tolerability of an intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation (iTBS) paradigm in older adults with depression and co-ocurrring executive dysfunction.
      • What is the Main finding of this study?
      • Older adults undergoing iTBS over bilateral dorso-lateral-prefrontal cortex experienced improvements in both depression and executive function.
      • Older adults with depression undergoing iTBS experienced noticeable reduction in problematic dysexecutive behaviors.
      • What is the meaning of the finding?
      • Our findings inform on the feasibility of this paradigm and advance the field towards testing neuromodulation treatments that target brain-networks affected in late life depression.



      Executive Function Deficits (EFD) accompany depression and are associated with poor outcomes in older adults. We examined whether Intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation (iTBS) could improve depression with EFD.


      Thirteen geriatric patients with depression and EFD were enrolled. Open label iTBS was delivered bilaterally over the dorso-lateral-prefrontal-cortex for four weeks.


      Montgomery Asberg Depression Scale scores improved significantly from baseline to treatment-end, mean change in score = 11.82 points, 95% CI = 8.3, 15.4. The Flanker Inhibitory control and attention test showed significant improvement in executive function from baseline to treatment-end, mean change in score = −7.73, 95% CI ( −13.54, −1.92). Side effects included twitching in facial muscles (n = 11), headaches (n = 10) and stimulation discomfort (n = 4).


      Small sample size and lack of a sham comparator.


      iTBS improved depression with EFD in older adults. Side effects appeared higher than in previous iTBS studies.

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