Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation May Reduce Smoking

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Summary: Non-invasive brain stimulation, such as rTMS, helps to reduce smoking frequency in nicotine-dependent people, a new study reports. Stimulating the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation significantly reduced smoking frequency.

Source: Society for the Study of Addiction

A new systematic review of randomized controlled trials has found evidence that non-invasive brain stimulation may reduce smoking frequency (number of cigarettes per day) in nicotine-dependent smokers. 

Because nicotine can produce neuroadaptations in the brain that makes it hard to quit smoking, researchers have sought ways to treat nicotine dependence with non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques that counteract abnormal brain activity associated with chronic nicotine exposure. 

This review, published by the scientific journal Addiction, looked at twelve randomised controlled trials of NIBS methods on a combined total of 710 participants with nicotine dependence.  It used a network meta-analysis technique to compare the benefits and safety of various types of NIBS. 

Several NIBS techniques showed promising results, but the best results came from high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which was associated with the greatest reduction in smoking frequency. 

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