Shahbabaie, A., Ebrahimpoor, M., Hariri, A., (...), Oghabian, M.A., Ekhtiari, H.
Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive brain stimulation tool suited to alter cortical excitability and activity via the application of weak direct electrical currents. An increasing number of studies in the addiction literature suggests that tDCS modulates subjective self-reported craving through stimulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). The major goal of this study was to explore effects of bilateral DLPFC stimulation on resting state networks (RSNs) in association with drug craving modulation. We targeted three large-scale RSNs; the default mode network (DMN), the executive control network (ECN), and the salience network (SN).
Methods: Fifteen males were recruited after signing written informed consent. We conducted a double-blinded sham-controlled crossover study. Twenty-minute "real" and "sham" tDCS (2 mA) were applied over the DLPFC on two separate days in random order. Each subject received both stimulation conditions with a 1-week washout period. The anode and cathode electrodes were located over the right and left DLPFC, respectively. Resting state fMRI was acquired before and after real and sham stimulation. Subjective craving was assessed before and after each fMRI scan. The RSNs were identified using seed-based analysis and were compared using a generalized linear model.
Results: Subjective craving decreased significantly after real tDCS compared to sham stimulation (p = .03). Moreover, the analysis shows significant modulation of DMN, ECN, and SN after real tDCS compared to sham stimulation. Additionally, alteration of subjective craving score was correlated with modified activation of the three networks.