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Psychiatr Danub. 2012 Sep;24 Suppl 1:S14-20.

The current perspective of neuromodulation techniques in the treatment of alcohol addiction: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium.



Alcohol dependency can be considered as a chronic mental disorder characterized by frequent relapses even when treated with appropriate medical or psychotherapeutic interventions. Here, the efficacy of different neuromodulation techniques in alcohol addiction, such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is critically evaluated.


A broad literature search on electronic databases such as NCBI PubMed, the Web of Knowledge, the Cochrane Library was conducted. Additionally, we searched recent handbooks on neuromodulation and/or addiction.


Studies investigating these neuromodulation techniques in alcohol addiction remain to date rather limited and especially tDCS and rTMS applications have been investigated. Overall, the clinical effects seem modest. The use of VNS and ECT has yet to be investigated in alcohol dependent patients.


Neuromodulation techniques have only recently been subject to investigation in alcohol addiction and methodological differences between the few studies restrict clear-cut conclusions. Nevertheless, the scarce results encourage further investigation in alcohol addiction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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