Skip to main content

Into the island: a new technique of non-invasive cortical stimulation to address Insula Role in Drug Addiction.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 — Poster Session I

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

FAES Academic Center (Upper-Level Terrace)




  • PA Spagnolo
  • H Wang
  • M Hallet
  • M Heilig


Recent research on the neurobiology of addiction indicates that the insular cortex may play a crucial part in conscious urges to take drugs. In this study we aim to investigate the role of insular cortex in addiction by modulating its activity through repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) with a novel H-coil. We initially focused on a sample of healthy controls, by examining behavioral responses during tasks that are known to activate insular circuits. In a randomized crossover order, five right-handed subjects (3F, 2M) underwent 2 sessions (sham; real) of 1 Hz rTMS at an intensity of 120% of individual motor threshold, over the right insular cortex. Before, immediately after, and 1h after rTMS, subjects performed 1) forced-choice risk-taking task; and 2) blink suppression task,. Risk taking behavior was differentially affected by rTMS, with real TMS resulting in an elevation of % safe choices that was sustained at the 1-hr timepoint, compared with sham TMS (2=0.3). Real TMS also decreased the blink rate:no effects were detected after sham TMS. These results indicate rTMS may represent an efficacious and non-invasive tool to affect craving driven by insula in drug addiction.

back to top