No influence of one right-sided prefrontal HF-rTMS session on alcohol craving in recently detoxified alcohol-dependent patients: results of a naturalistic study

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2012 Jan 1;120(1-3):209-13. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.07.021. Epub 2011 Aug 19.


Background: Prior research in substance dependence has suggested potential anti-craving effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) when applied to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). However, no single sham-controlled session studies applied to the right DLPFC have been carried-out in recently detoxified alcohol-dependent patients. Furthermore, no studies examined the effect of a single HF-rTMS session on craving in these patients' natural habitat.

Methods: To further investigate the effect of high-frequency (HF)-rTMS of the right DLPFC on alcohol craving, we performed a prospective, single-blind, sham-controlled study involving 36 hospitalized patients with alcohol dependence syndrome. After successful detoxification, patients were allocated receiving one active or one sham HF-rTMS session. The obsessive-compulsive drinking scale (OCDS) was administered to evaluate the extent of craving just before and after the HF-rTMS session (on Friday), on Saturday and Sunday during the weekend at home, and on Monday when the patient returned to the hospital.

Results: One single blind sham-controlled HF-rTMS session applied to the right DLPFC did not result in changes in craving (neither immediately after the stimulation session, nor in patients' natural environment during the weekend).

Conclusions: One HF-rTMS stimulation session applied to the right DLPFC had no significant effects on alcohol craving in alcohol dependent patients. One such session could have been too short to alter alcohol craving in a sample of alcohol dependent patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult