Psychology ETDs

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BACKGROUND: Craving is implicated the maintenance of alcohol abuse and dependence as well as relapse during attempts at recovery. An early investigation by Boggio et al. (2008b) demonstrated that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied over dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) was effective in reducing craving among individuals with alcohol dependence. The present study is the first to continue to explore the potential of tDCS to manipulate craving in the context of alcohol use and abuse. METHODS: 18 adult participants completed assessments of alcohol abuse severity, and of alcohol craving and mood before and after transcranial stimulation. Active and sham tDCS of DLPFC was utilized in two separate experimental sessions. The protocol was revised midway through the study to include potential induction of craving through the visual presentation of alcohol cues. RESULTS: Within the revised protocol, a comparison of pre- to post-stimulation difference scores for active versus sham stimulation produced a reduction in craving that approached significance (p = .06). A comparison of pre- to post-stimulation scores for active stimulation produced a significant reduction in craving (p = .03), whereas a comparison of pre- to post-stimulation scores for sham stimulation was nonsignificant(p = .42). A significant linear relationship existed between response to active stimulation and both alcohol abuse severity and retrospective accounts of alcohol craving. CONCLUSIONS: The findings showed that tDCS applied to the DLPFC may be effective in reducing alcohol craving among individuals with alcohol use disorders who experience frequent or intense cravings. The use of minimum cutoff scores on assessments of alcohol abuse severity and alcohol craving may aid in identifying individuals who would benefit from tDCS treatment. Additional research may demonstrate the utility of noninvasive brain stimulation in clinical alcohol abuse treatment settings.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Clark, Vince

Second Committee Member

Moyers, Theresa




transcranial direct current stimulation, tDCS, brain stimulation, craving, alcohol, alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcoholism treatment

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