Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry. 12 (no pagination), 2022. Article Number: 779201.
Date of Publication: 14 Jan 2022.
Authors: Song P.; Tong H.; Zhang L.; Lin H.; Hu N.; Zhao X.; Hao W.; Xu P.; Wang Y.
Abstract: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a highly prevalent yet poorly understood chronic mental disorder. Previous studies have associated GAD with excessive activation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). This study aimed to investigate the effect of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (repetitive TMS, rTMS) targeting the right DLPFC on clinical symptoms and TMS-evoked time-varying brain network connectivity in patients with GAD. Eleven patients with GAD received 1 Hz rTMS treatment targeting the right DLPFC for 10 days. The severity of the clinical symptoms was evaluated using the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA) and the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD) at baseline, right after treatment, and at the one-month follow-up. Co-registration of
single-pulse TMS (targeting the right DLPFC) and electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) was performed pre- and post-treatment in these patients and 11 healthy controls. Time-varying brain network connectivity was analyzed using the adaptive directed transfer function. The scores of HAMA and HAMD significantly decreased after low-frequency rTMS treatment, and these improvements in ratings remained at the one-month follow-up. Analyses of the time-varying EEG network in the healthy controls showed a continuous weakened connection information outflow in the left frontal and mid-temporal regions. Compared with the healthy controls, the patients with GAD showed weakened connection information outflow in the left frontal pole and the posterior temporal pole at baseline. After 10-day rTMS treatment, the network patterns showed weakened connection information outflow in the left frontal and temporal regions. The time-varying EEG network changes induced by TMS perturbation targeting right DLPFC in patients with GAD were characterized by insufficient information outflow in the left frontal and temporal regions. Low-frequency rTMS targeting the right DLPFC reversed these abnormalities and improved the clinical symptoms of GAD.