I am also participating in a research study being run by two grad students at the local university: The Effects of ECT or rTMS on Olfaction and Cognition in Patients with Depression. "The purpose of this study is to determine if ECT or rTMS afect the ability to detect and identify odours and improve cognition. It has been demonstrated that individuals who are depressed have a decreased ability to detect odours, and suffer from cognitive deficits. As well, it has been demonstrated the ECT and rTMS are extremely effective treatments for depression. The goal of this study is to determine if patients whose depression improves after having ECT or rTMS, also show an improvement in their ability to detect odours and cognition. These findings can help shed light on the link between areas in the brain responsible for cognition, the sense of smell and the areas responsible for depression."
I know, sounds boring, but hey, anything for science.
So in the process of participating, I got to have a functional Magnetic Resonance Image (fMRI) of my brain done. Hey, it even looks like me!
It's weird to see all the structures of my brain, just like in my university psychology text books, and to think that the inside of my head really looks like that. That what I can see in this photo is what makes me, me. It's not just bad luck or my fault or a curse. It's squishy things inside my head, that maybe TMS can change. Even just a little.
One part of the study consists of remembering numbers and pushing the correct buttons while in the MRI. The other part consists of being blindfolded and smelling sticks with odours on them. My ability to discern odours is very slightly below normal for my age.
When the whole series of TMS is done, we'll do the fMRI and the Sniff Tests again and see if there is any difference. Stay tuned!