The effects of high frequency rTMS on negative attentional bias are influenced by baseline state anxiety

Neuropsychologia. 2011 Jun;49(7):1824-30. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.03.006. Epub 2011 Mar 21.


High frequency (HF) repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has been shown to induce an attentional bias towards threatening information in healthy adults, associated with decreased activation in the right DLPFC and increased activation in the right amygdala. Additionally, it has been shown that healthy individuals with higher state anxiety portray similar negative attentional biases and cortico-subcortical activation patterns to those induced by HF-rTMS of the right DLPFC. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate whether inter-individual differences in state anxiety levels prior to the administration of HF-rTMS of the right DLPFC might be related to the degree to which rTMS induces such a negative attentional bias in healthy volunteers. We administered HF-rTMS of the right DLPFC to a group of 28 healthy female individuals. In line with previous research, a single session of HF-rTMS of the right DLPFC induced an attentional bias towards threatening information. Moreover, self-report measures of state anxiety (STAI-State) prior to stimulation correlated positively with the magnitude of the induced attentional bias. More specifically, we found that healthy individuals who scored higher on self-reports of state anxiety acquired more attentional bias towards negative information after HF-rTMS. Therefore, the effects of a single placebo-controlled rTMS session of the right DLPFC is consistent with the effects of a disrupted prefrontal-amygdala circuitry. The effects on attentional bias are largest in those participants reporting higher state anxiety scores, possibly because underlying amygdala activation is highest.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Anger
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cues
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Young Adult