Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may be effective for enhancing cognitive functioning. In this review, we aimed to systematically evaluate the effects of rTMS on attention in psychiatric diseases. In particular, we searched PubMed and Embase to examine the effectiveness of rTMS administered to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on this specific cognitive domain. The search identified 24 articles, 21 of which met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Among them, nine were conducted in patients with depression, four in patients with schizophrenia, three in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), two in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, one each in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and in patients with alcohol or methamphetamine addiction. No evidence for cognitive adverse effects was found in all the included rTMS studies. Several studies showed a significant improvement of attentional function in patients with depression and schizophrenia. The beneficial effects on attention and other executive functions suggest that rTMS has the potential to target core features of ASD. rTMS may influence the attentional networks in alcohol-dependent and other addicted patients. We also reviewed and discussed the studies assessing the effects of rTMS on attention in the healthy population. This review suggests that prefrontal rTMS could exert procognitive effects on attention in patients with many psychiatric disorders.
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