Effects of Prefrontal Theta Burst Stimulation on Neuronal Activity and Subsequent Eating Behavior: An Interleaved rTMS and fNIRS Study

SOURCE: Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience. 18(1), 2023 Feb 06.

AUTHORS: Fatakdawala I; Ayaz H; Safati AB; Sakib MN; Hall PA

ABSTRACT: The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) are both important nodes for self-control and decision-making but through separable processes (cognitive control vs evaluative processing). This study aimed to examine the effects of excitatory brain stimulation [intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS)] targeting the dlPFC and dmPFC on eating behavior. iTBS was hypothesized to decrease consumption of appetitive snack foods, via enhanced interference control for dlPFC stimulation and reduced delay discounting (DD) for dmPFC stimulation. Using a single-blinded, between-subjects design, participants (N = 43) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (i) iTBS targeting the left dlPFC, (ii) iTBS targeting bilateral dmPFC or (iii) sham. Participants then completed two cognitive tasks (DD and Flanker), followed by a bogus taste test. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy imaging revealed that increases in the medial prefrontal cortex activity were evident in the dmPFC stimulation group during the DD task; likewise, a neural efficiency effect was observed in the dlPFC stimulation group during the Flanker. Gender significantly moderated during the taste test, with females in the dmPFC showing paradoxical increases in food consumption compared to sham. Findings suggest that amplification of evaluative processing may facilitate eating indulgence when preponderant social cues are permissive and food is appetitive.

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