Reduced intra-individual reaction time variability during a Go-NoGo task in detoxified alcohol-dependent patients after one right-sided dorsolateral prefrontal HF-rTMS session

Alcohol Alcohol. 2013 Sep-Oct;48(5):552-7. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agt054. Epub 2013 May 24.


Aims: As alcohol dependency is characterized by severe executive function deficits, we examined the influence of high-frequency (HF) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) applied to the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on executive functioning in recently detoxified alcohol-dependent patients.

Methods: In this randomized, single blind, sham (placebo)-controlled, crossover study, we included 50 detoxified alcohol-dependent patients. We examined the effect of a single right DLPFC HF-rTMS session on commission errors, mean reaction times (RTs) and intra-individual reaction time variability (IIRTV) during a Go-NoGo task (50% Go/50% NoGo condition) in 29 alcohol-dependent patients. Patients completed this cognitive task immediately before and immediately after the stimulation session. In order to avoid carry-over effects between stimulation sessions, a 1-week inter-session interval was respected. Because rTMS treatment has been shown to affect subjective craving, all patients were also assessed with the Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS).

Results: After both stimulation conditions, we observed a significant decrease of commission errors, without differences between active and sham HF-rTMS stimulation. No significant difference was observed between active and sham stimulation on mean RT. However, only active stimulation resulted in a significant decrease in IIRTV. No effects of stimulation were found for the craving measurements.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that in recently detoxified alcohol-dependent patients, one right-sided HF-rTMS session stabilizes cognitive performance during executive control tasks, implying that active stimulation reduces patients' proneness to attentional lapses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / metabolism*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult