Individualized Neuroimaging Biomarkers for Predicting rTMS Response in OCD

May 10, 2023 updated by: David Spiegel, Stanford University

Individualized Neuroimaging Biomarkers for Predicting Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Response in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The goal of this clinical trial is to discover brain-based subtypes of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and examine treatment response to two different repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) targets in the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and the right prefrontal cortex (rPFC).

Study Overview

Detailed Description

New interventions are urgently needed to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), as more than 25% of patients show no improvement with the standard of care. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a promising alternative treatment, as it uses focused magnetic field pulses to stimulate specific brain areas. So far, medial and right prefrontal cortex stimulation targets have consistent evidence of efficacy in OCD. Patients often show a strong response to one target but not the other. It is not well understood why some patients respond, while others do not. So far, there are no biomarkers for predicting treatment response, identifying the optimal neuroanatomical target, or choosing between treatments.

The goal of this clinical trial is OCD subtype discovery and treatment optimization. Using MRI scans of OCD patients before and after rTMS treatment we aim to:

  • Define novel network-based subtypes of OCD that can be diagnosed in individual patients and differentiated from healthy controls;
  • Identify characteristic functional connectivity profiles predictive of response to MPFC-rTMS versus rPFC-rTMS;
  • Identify characteristic changes in resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) associated with symptom improvement for OCD patients undergoing MPFC- and rPFC-rTMS.

Study Type


Enrollment (Anticipated)



  • Not Applicable

Contacts and Locations

This section provides the contact details for those conducting the study, and information on where this study is being conducted.

Study Contact

Study Contact Backup

Study Locations

  • United States
    • California
      • Stanford, California, United States, 94304
        • Recruiting
        • Stanford University
        • Principal Investigator:
          • Nolan Williams, MD
        • Contact:
    • New York
      • New York, New York, United States, 10065
        • Recruiting
        • Weill Cornell Medicine
        • Principal Investigator:
          • Conor Liston, MD, PhD
        • Contact:

Participation Criteria

Researchers look for people who fit a certain description, called eligibility criteria. Some examples of these criteria are a person's general health condition or prior treatments.

Eligibility Criteria

Ages Eligible for Study

  • Adult
  • Older Adult

Accepts Healthy Volunteers



Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Outpatient
  2. Aged 18-80
  3. Either sex and all ethno-racial categories.
  4. Meets DSM-5 criteria for OCD with a moderate level of severity as defined by a Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) score of at least 20.
  5. Off antidepressants OR on a stable dose of SRI medication for at least 8 weeks prior to the study with plans to remain on this stable dose during the study.

    a. Medications that are known to increase cortical excitability (e.g., bupropion, maprotiline, tricyclic antidepressants, classical antipsychotics) or to have an inhibitory effect on brain excitability (e.g., anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines, and atypical antipsychotics), or any other medications with relative hazard for use in TMS will be allowed upon review of medications and/or motor threshold determination by TMS specialist.

  6. Failed at least 1 prior trial of standard first-line OCD treatment per APA Practice Guidelines (serotonin reuptake inhibitor [SRI] or cognitive behavioral therapy with exposure and response prevention) OR had refused these treatments for individual reasons.
  7. Capacity to provide informed consent.
  8. Ability to tolerate clinical study procedures.
  9. Successfully complete the MRI safety screening forms without any contraindications.

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Diagnosed according to the MINI as suffering from a primary psychiatric diagnosis other than OCD.
  2. Evidence of psychotic symptoms on diagnostic interview.
  3. Diagnosed according to the MINI as suffering from severe Personality Disorder (excluding Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder) or hospitalized due to exacerbation related to borderline personality disorder.
  4. Current bipolar disorder or history of any manic episodes.
  5. Current active suicidality
  6. Met criteria for moderate or severe Alcohol Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder, or Substance Use Disorder (except nicotine and caffeine) within the past 3 months according to DSM-5 criteria.
  7. Current eating disorder
  8. History of seizure, having an EEG, stroke, head injury (including neurosurgery), implanted devices, frequent or severe headaches, brain related conditions (e.g., intracranial mass lesions globe injuries, hydrocephalus), illness that caused brain injury or first degree relative with seizure disorder.
  9. Significant neurological disorder or insult including, but not limited to: any condition likely to be associated with increased intracranial pressure, space occupying brain lesion, history of cerebrovascular accident, transient ischemic attack within two years, cerebral aneurysm, dementia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's chorea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy.
  10. Individuals with primary hoarding disorder without a DSM-5 OCD diagnosis (as determined by MINI and YBOCS checklist).
  11. Planning to commence Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (that includes exposure and response prevention) during the period of the study or have begun Cognitive Behavioral Therapy within 8 weeks prior to enrollment.
  12. Pregnant or nursing females (assessed via urine dipstick), or plans to conceive during the study.
  13. Positive urine screen for illicit drugs (assessed via urine dipstick) [Exceptions: (1) any prescribed medication that participant is currently taking and (2) positive cocaine metabolite after consumption of coca tea].
  14. History of any implanted device or psychosurgery.
  15. History of any metal in the head including the eyes and ears (outside the mouth).
  16. Age of OCD symptom onset > 40.
  17. History of significant hearing loss.
  18. Head or neck tics which interfere with TMS and/or MRI.
  19. Subjects who suffered from an unstable physical, systemic and metabolic disorder such as unstabilized blood pressure or acute, unstable cardiac disease.
  20. Autism spectrum disorder
  21. aTBS treatment dose > 65% maximum stimulator output (MSO)
  22. Any other condition deemed by the PD to interfere with the study or increase risk to the participant

Study Plan

This section provides details of the study plan, including how the study is designed and what the study is measuring.

How is the study designed?

Design Details

  • Primary Purpose: Treatment
  • Allocation: Randomized
  • Interventional Model: Parallel Assignment
  • Masking: None (Open Label)

Arms and Interventions

Participant Group / Arm
Intervention / Treatment
Experimental: Medial Prefrontal Cortex (MPFC)
Intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS) of MPFC at up to 100% resting motor threshold (RMT), with lower extremity RMT established for the MPFC target.
Participants will receive a 5-day course of 10x daily rTMS, with sessions delivered hourly. Each session will deliver up to 1800 pulses of theta-burst stimulation per target.
Other Names:
  • rTMS
  • MagVenture MagPro rTMS Research System
Active Comparator: Right Prefrontal Cortex (rPFC)
Continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) of rPFC at up to 110% of RMT, with upper extremity RMT established for the rPFC target.
Participants will receive a 5-day course of 10x daily rTMS, with sessions delivered hourly. Each session will deliver up to 1800 pulses of theta-burst stimulation per target.
Other Names:
  • rTMS
  • MagVenture MagPro rTMS Research System

What is the study measuring?

Primary Outcome Measures

Outcome Measure
Measure Description
Time Frame
resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of frontostriatal networks
Time Frame: pre-treatment up to 1-month post-treatment
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures of resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in the frontostriatal networks targeted by rTMS (MPFC or rPFC)
pre-treatment up to 1-month post-treatment

Secondary Outcome Measures

Outcome Measure
Measure Description
Time Frame
OCD symptoms
Time Frame: pre-treatment to 1-week post-treatment
Change in OCD symptoms (YBOCS 2, Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale 2, score range: 0-50, higher scores indicating higher symptom levels) following treatment with rTMS
pre-treatment to 1-week post-treatment

Collaborators and Investigators

This is where you will find people and organizations involved with this study.


  • Study Director: David Spiegel, MD, Stanford University
  • Principal Investigator: Nolan Williams, MD, Stanford University

Study record dates

These dates track the progress of study record and summary results submissions to Study records and reported results are reviewed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to make sure they meet specific quality control standards before being posted on the public website.

Study Major Dates

Study Start (Actual)

March 14, 2022

Primary Completion (Anticipated)

March 14, 2027

Study Completion (Anticipated)

March 14, 2029

Study Registration Dates

First Submitted

April 6, 2023

First Submitted That Met QC Criteria

April 24, 2023

First Posted (Actual)

April 26, 2023

Study Record Updates

Last Update Posted (Actual)

May 12, 2023

Last Update Submitted That Met QC Criteria

May 10, 2023

Last Verified

May 1, 2023

More Information

Terms related to this study


Other Study ID Numbers

  • 62822
  • 22-03024635 (Other Identifier: Cornell University IRB)
  • Pro00057331 (Other Identifier: Advarra)

Plan for Individual participant data (IPD)

Plan to Share Individual Participant Data (IPD)?


IPD Plan Description

The project will implement open data dissemination to ensure that the other FFOR teams and subsequently the wider research community will have ready access to the acquired data, including clinical and neuroimaging data from patients before and after treatment. To this end, all consent forms and datasharing agreements across the recruiting sites will incorporate content to enable this open data-sharing.

IPD Sharing Time Frame

Deidentified data will be available any time following publication of outcomes from this study, with no specified end date.

IPD Sharing Access Criteria

Deidentified data will be shared with any researcher requesting access.

IPD Sharing Supporting Information Type

  • SAP
  • ICF
  • CSR

Drug and device information, study documents

Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated drug product


Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated device product


product manufactured in and exported from the U.S.


This information was retrieved directly from the website without any changes. If you have any requests to change, remove or update your study details, please contact [email protected]. As soon as a change is implemented on, this will be updated automatically on our website as well.

Clinical Trials on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Clinical Trials on Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation