Transient alcohol craving suppression by rTMS of dorsal anterior cingulate: an fMRI and LORETA EEG study

Neurosci Lett. 2011 May 27;496(1):5-10. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.03.074. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


It has recently become clear that alcohol addiction might be related to a brain dysfunction, in which a genetic background and environmental factors shape brain mechanisms involved with alcohol consumption. Craving, a major component determining relapses in alcohol abuse has been linked to abnormal activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, dorsal anterior cingulated cortex (dACC) and amygdala. We report the results of a patient who underwent rTMS targeting the dACC using a double cone coil in an attempt to suppress very severe intractable alcohol craving. Functional imaging studies consisting of fMRI and resting state EEG were performed before rTMS, after successful rTMS and after unsuccessful rTMS with relapse. Craving was associated with EEG beta activity and connectivity between the dACC and PCC in the patient in comparison to a healthy population, which disappeared after successful rTMS. Cue induced worsening of craving pre-rTMS activated the ACC-vmPFC and PCC on fMRI, as well as the nucleus accumbens area, and lateral frontoparietal areas. The nucleus accumbens, ACC-vmPFC and PCC activation disappeared on fMRI following successful rTMS. Relapse was associated with recurrence of ACC and PCC EEG activity, but in gamma band, in comparison to a healthy population. On fMRI nucleus accumbens, ACC and PCC activation returned to the initial activation pattern. A pathophysiological approach is described to suppress alcohol craving temporarily by rTMS directed at the anterior cingulate. Linking functional imaging changes to craving intensity suggests this approach warrants further exploration.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Alcoholism / pathology
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Alcohols / blood
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*


  • Alcohols
  • Oxygen