Previous research indicates that alcohol intoxication impairs inhibitory control and that the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC) is a functional brain region important for exercising control over thoughts and behaviour. At the same time, the extent to which changes in inhibitory control following initial intoxication mediate subsequent drinking behaviours has not been elucidated fully. Ascertaining the extent to which inhibitory control impairments drive alcohol consumption, we applied continuous theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (rDLPFC cTBS vs. control) to isolate how inhibitory control impairments (measured using the Stop-Signal task) shape ad libitum alcohol consumption in a pseudo taste test. Twenty participants (13 males) took part in a within-participants design; their age ranged between 18 and 27 years (M = 20.95, SD = 2.74). Results indicate that following rDLPFC cTBS participants’ inhibitory control was impaired, and ad libitum consumption increased. The relationship between stimulation and consumption did not appear to be mediated by inhibitory control in the present study. Overall, findings suggest that applying TMS to the rDLPFC may inhibit neural activity and increase alcohol consumption. Future research with greater power is recommended to determine the extent to which inhibitory control is the primary mechanism by which the rDLPFC exerts influence over alcohol consumption, and the degree to which other cognitive processes may play a role.
McNeill, A., Monk, R., Qureshi, A., Makris, S., & Heim, D. (2018). Continuous Theta Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of the Right Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Impairs Inhibitory Control and Increases Alcohol Consumption. Cognitive, affective and behavioural neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13415-018-0631-3