Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a relatively new and exciting technique that utilizes magnetism to interfere with the electricity in our brains.
With a use of a wand-like handheld device connected to a specialistic apparatus, scientists are able to apply just the right amount of force to a precise location on a cranium in order to obtain a particular and expected result. Due to advances in brain mapping, the accuracy of these experiments is astounding.
What effectively happens, is that the part of the brain that is being subjected to the magnetism becomes a functional brain lesion. Of course there is no permanent or physical change, and any effects disappear as soon as the wand is moved away from the subject.
Here is a quick presentation from BBC:
Since TMS is so new, the focus is on its medical uses. Some promising results have been shown in cases involving chronic depression, pain and insomnia. The repeated session are usually the last resort, but if the medication and therapy both fail, there is always another hope that should not be discounted.
More and more insurance plans cover TMS for regular patients.
In connection to our class, the TMS was introduced as a mean to test how different parts of the brain take part in the formation of our perception. From the research standpoint TMS could be revolutionary, but it is not widely adopted in that capacity yet. Just imagine all of the perceptual experiments a scientist could perform with a precise control over the brain at any given moment. A whole new world of really precise measurements is right there, and I am sure that with time it will become more and more popular in both the laboratories and spa-like therapy resorts across the world.