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Brain Stimulation in Addiction. [Review]

Brain Stimulation in Addiction. [Review] 

Salling MC; Martinez D.

Source Neuropsychopharmacology. 41(12):2798-2809, 2016 Nov.

Localized stimulation of the human brain to treat neuropsychiatric disorders has been in place for over 20 years. Although these methods have been used to a greater extent for mood and movement disorders, recent work has explored brain stimulation methods as potential treatments for addiction. The rationale behind stimulation therapy in addiction involves reestablishing normal brain function in target regions in an effort to dampen addictive behaviors. In this review, we present the rationale and studies investigating brain stimulation in addiction, including transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation, and deep brain stimulation. Overall, these studies indicate that brain stimulation has an acute effect on craving for drugs and alcohol, but few studies have investigated the effect of brain stimulation on actual drug and alcohol use or relapse. Stimulation therapies may achieve their effect through direct or indirect modulation of brain regions involved in addiction, either acutely or through plastic changes in neuronal transmission. Although these mechanisms are not well understood, further identification of the underlying neurobiology of addiction and rigorous evaluation of brain stimulation methods has the potential for unlocking an effective, long-term treatment of addiction.

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