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Effects of tDCS during inhibitory control training on performance and PTSD, aggression and anxiety symptoms: a randomized-controlled trial in a military sample

Effects of tDCS during inhibitory control training on performance and PTSD, aggression and anxiety symptoms: a randomized-controlled trial in a military sample

Smits, Fenne M. ORCID: 0000-0001-9697-1028, Geuze, Elbert ORCID: 0000-0003-3479-2379, Schutter, Dennis J. L. G. ORCID: 0000-0003-0738-1865, van Honk, Jack ORCID: 0000-0001-7955-6500 and Gladwin, Thomas E. ORCID: 0000-0001-9538-6425 (2021) Effects of tDCS during inhibitory control training on performance and PTSD, aggression and anxiety symptoms: a randomized-controlled trial in a military sample. Psychological Medicine. pp. 1-11. ISSN 0033-2917 (Print), 1469-8978 (Online) (In Press) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721000817)

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Abstract

Background:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and impulsive aggression are linked to transdiagnostic neurocognitive deficits. This includes impaired inhibitory control over inappropriate responses. Prior studies showed that inhibitory control can be improved by modulating the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in combination with inhibitory control training. However, its clinical potential remains unclear. We therefore aimed to replicate a tDCS-enhanced inhibitory control training in a clinical sample and test whether this reduces stress-related mental health symptoms.

Methods:

In a preregistered double-blind randomized-controlled trial, 100 active-duty military personnel and post-active veterans with PTSD, anxiety, or impulsive aggression symptoms underwent a 5-session intervention where a stop-signal response inhibition training was combined with anodal tDCS over the right IFG for 20 min at 1.25 mA. Inhibitory control was evaluated with the emotional go/no-go task and implicit association test. Stress-related symptoms were assessed by self-report at baseline, post-intervention, and after 3-months and 1-year follow-ups.

Results:

Active relative to sham tDCS neither influenced performance during inhibitory control training nor on assessment tasks, and did also not significantly influence self-reported symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, impulsive aggression, or depression at post-assessment or follow-up.

Conclusions:

Our results do not support the idea that anodal tDCS over the right IFG at 1.25 mA enhances response inhibition training in a clinical sample, or that this tDCS-training combination can reduce stress-related symptoms. Applying different tDCS parameters or combining tDCS with more challenging tasks might provide better conditions to modulate cognitive functioning and stress-related symptoms.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aggression, anxiety, inferior frontal gyrus, inhibitory control, PTSD, transcranial direct current stimulation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Department of Family Care & Mental Health
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development > Centre for Mental Health
Last Modified: 07 May 2021 12:48
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/31936

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