JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Cortical stimulation of the prefrontal cortex with transcranial direct current stimulation reduces cue-provoked smoking craving: a randomized, sham-controlled study

Felipe Fregni, Paola Liguori, Shirley Fecteau, Michael A Nitsche, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Paulo S Boggio
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2008, 69 (1): 32-40
18312035

OBJECTIVE: Because neuroimaging studies have shown that cue-provoked smoking craving is associated with changes in the activity of the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), we aimed to investigate whether a powerful technique of noninvasive brain stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), reduces cue-provoked smoking craving as indexed by a visual analog scale.

METHOD: We performed a randomized, sham-controlled crossover study in which 24 subjects received sham and active tDCS (anodal tDCS of the left and right DLPFC) in a randomized order. Craving was induced by cigarette manipulation and exposure to a smoking video. The study ran from January 2006 to October 2006.

RESULTS: Smoking craving was significantly increased after exposure to smoking-craving cues (p < .0001). Stimulation of both left and right DLPFC with active, but not sham, tDCS reduced craving significantly when comparing craving at baseline and after stimulation, without (p = .007) and with (p = .005) smoking-craving cues. There were no significant mood changes in any of the conditions of stimulation. Adverse events were mild and distributed equally across all treatment conditions.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings extend the results of a previous study on the use of brain stimulation to reduce craving, showing that cortical stimulation with tDCS is beneficial for reducing cue-provoked craving, and thus support the further exploration of this technique for smoking cessation.

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