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OBJECTIVES: Past research has largely neglected to investigate mild adverse effects (MAEs) to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), including headache and nausea. Here we explored the relationship between MAEs, participant characteristics (age and gender) and protocol parameters, including mode of application, coil geometry, stimulated brain region, TMS frequency, TMS intensity, and active vs. sham stimulation. METHODS: Data from 1270 standard post-monitoring forms was obtained from 113 healthy participants. Analyses aimed to identify the risk factors associated with MAE reports and specific symptoms. RESULTS: The overall rate of MAEs across TMS sessions was ∼5%, with ∼78% of symptoms occurring post-session. Initial TMS sessions were followed by a higher MAE incidence rate relative to later testing sessions. No associations between participant characteristics, TMS frequency, or intensity were observed. CONCLUSIONS: TMS-related MAEs are relatively common and may be exacerbated by initial expectations or anxieties of participants. A significant proportion of MAEs may reflect reporting of coincidental phenomena that are unrelated to TMS. Recommendations for future safety studies are proposed and monitoring documentation is provided. SIGNIFICANCE: Our findings illustrate the importance of standardized monitoring of MAEs. Such research aids our understanding of how MAEs arise and may lead to interventions for reducing their incidence.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Neurophysiol

Publication Date





536 - 544


Adolescent, Adult, Brain, Female, Headache, Humans, Incidence, Male, Nausea, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation