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PLoS One. 2019 Feb 14;14(2):e0212312. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212312. eCollection 2019.

Effect of transcranial direct current stimulation on the number of smoked cigarettes in tobacco smokers.

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Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh Saudi Arabia.
Laboratory of Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, CERVO Brain Research Center, Medical School, Laval University, Quebec, Canada.
Neuroscience Center, King Fahad Specialist Hospital Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States of America.



Recent studies reported that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) reduced craving and cigarette smoking. We aimed to evaluate whether 3 sessions of tDCS over the DLPFC modulate cigarette smoking which is a critical factor in tobacco smokers.


In a double-blinded, sham-controlled, parallel experimental study, 22 participants who wished to quit smoking received tDCS with the cathodal over the right DLPFC and anodal over the left DLPFC based on the 10-20 EEG international system (F4, F3) at an intensity of 1.5 mA for 20 minutes during three consecutive days. For sham stimulation, the electrodes placement was the same as for the active stimulation.


For the short time interval (8 days after the end of the tDCS regimen), the number of smoked cigarettes was reduced similarly in the active and sham groups (p < 0.001). Also, at the long time-interval (4 months after the end of the tDCS regimen) as compared to pre-tDCS, there was no significant difference in the number of smoked cigarettes in the active (p = 0.806) or the sham (p = 0.573) groups. Overall, there were no statistically significant differences between the active and sham tDCS groups on cigarette smoking.


These findings suggested that 3 sessions of tDCS over the right and left DLPFC may reduce number of smoked cigarettes for short-time period but might not be significantly more effective than sham to decrease cigarette smoking.

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