Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Re-Wiring the Alcoholic Human Brain
Alcohol. 74:113-124, 2019 02.
Diana M; Bolloni C; Antonelli M; Di Giuda D; Cocciolillo F; Fattore L; Addolorato G.
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide. In spite of significant advances in understanding the neural underpinnings of AUDs, therapeutic options remain limited. Recent studies have highlighted the potential of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as an innovative, safe, and cost-effective treatment for AUDs. Here, we summarize the fundamental principles of rTMS and its putative mechanisms of action via neurocircuitries related to alcohol addiction. We will also discuss advantages and limitations of rTMS, and argue that Hebbian plasticity and connectivity changes, as well as state-dependency, play a role in shaping some of the long-term effects of rTMS. Visual imaging studies will be linked to recent clinical pilot studies describing the effect of rTMS on alcohol craving and intake, pinpointing new advances, and highlighting conceptual gaps to be filled by future controlled studies.