Boosting Psychological Change: Combining Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation With Psychotherapy [Review]

SOURCE: Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 142:104867, 2022 11.

AUTHORS: Tatti E; Phillips AL; Paciorek R; Romanella SM; Dettore D; Di Lorenzo G; Ruffini G; Rossi S; Santarnecchi E

ABSTRACT: Mental health disorders and substance use disorders are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and one of the most important challenges for public health systems. While evidence-based psychotherapy is generally pursued to address mental health challenges, psychological change is often hampered by non-adherence to treatments, relapses, and practical barriers (e.g., time, cost). In recent decades, Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques have emerged as promising tools to directly target dysfunctional neural circuitry and promote long-lasting plastic changes. While the therapeutic efficacy of NIBS protocols for mental illnesses has been established, neuromodulatory interventions might also be employed to support the processes activated by psychotherapy. Indeed, combining psychotherapy with NIBS might help tailor the treatment to the patient’s unique characteristics and therapeutic goal, and would allow more direct control of the neuronal changes induced by therapy. Herein, we overview emerging evidence on the use of NIBS to enhance the psychotherapeutic effect, while highlighting the next steps in advancing clinical and research methods toward personalized intervention approaches.