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Non-invasive and invasive brain stimulation in alcohol use disorders: A critical review of selected human evidence and methodological considerations to guide future research

Abstract : Introduction: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) ranks among the leading causes of decrements in disability-adjusted life-years. Long-term exposure to alcohol leads to an imbalance of activity between frontal cortical systems and the striatum, thereby enhancing impulsive behaviours and weakening inhibitory control. Alternative therapeutic approaches such as non-invasive and invasive brain stimulation have gained some momentum in the field of addictology by capitalizing on their ability to target specific anatomical structures and correct abnormalities in dysfunctional brain circuits. Materials and methods: The current review, covers original peer-reviewed published research on the use of brain stimulation methods for the rehabilitation of AUD. A broad and systematic search was carried out on four electronic databases: NCBI PubMed, Web of Science, Handbooks and the Cochrane Library. Any original article in English or French language, without restrictions of patient age or gender, article type and publication outlet, were included in the final pool of selected studies. Results: The outcomes of this systematic review suggest that the dorsolateral prefrontral cortex (DLPFC) is a promising target for treating AUD with high frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Such effect would reduce feelings of craving by enhancing cognitive control and modulating striatal function. Existing literature also supports the notion that changes of DLPFC activity driven by transcranial direct current stimulation, could decrease alcohol craving and consumption. However, to date, no major differences have been found between the efficacy of these two non-invasive brain-stimulation approaches, which require further confirmation. In contrast, beneficial stronger evidence supports an impact of deep brain stimulation reducing craving and improving quality of life in AUD, effects that would be mediated by an impact on the nucleus accumbens, a central structure of the brain's reward circuitry. Overall, neurostimulation shows promise contributing to the treatment of AUD. Nonetheless, progress has been limited by a number of factors such as the low number of controlled randomized trials, small sample sizes, variety of stimulation parameters precluding comparability and incomplete or questionable sham-conditions. Additionally, a lack of data concerning clinical impact on the severity of AUD or craving and the short follow up periods precluding and accurate estimation of effect duration after discontinuing the treatment, has also limited the clinical relevance of final outcomes. Conclusion: Brain stimulation remains a promising approach to contribute to AUD therapy, co-adjuvant of more conventional procedures. However, a stronger therapeutic rational based on solid physio-pathological evidence and accurate estimates of efficacy, are still required to achieve further therapeutic success and expand clinical use.
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Contributor : Hal Sorbonne Université Gestionnaire <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - 10:04:15 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 2, 2021 - 9:08:50 AM


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R. Maatoug, K. Bihan, P. Duriez, P. Podevin, L. Silveira-Reis-Brito, et al.. Non-invasive and invasive brain stimulation in alcohol use disorders: A critical review of selected human evidence and methodological considerations to guide future research. Comprehensive Psychiatry, WB Saunders, 2021, 109, pp.152257. ⟨10.1016/j.comppsych.2021.152257⟩. ⟨hal-03285107⟩



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