Impulsivity is a major component of various psychiatric disorders. Amongst others, it plays a fundamental role in addiction. The aim of our project is the identification of convergent network level markers for impulsivity and addiction. In a second step, a real-time fMRI neurofeedback approach will be used to directly target the identified networks and to assess behavioral and neural modifications.
High impulsivity, which is often associated with low cognitive control, substantially contributes to the likelihood of substance use, relapse rates and risky behavior. Thus, interventions to increase cognitive control are highly warranted. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive brain stimulation technique to alter cortical excitability, presents a powerful tool to modulate brain activation associated with cognitive control. However, previous research has yielded inconclusive results of stimulation effects on impulsivity. Hence, it is essential to better understand the underlying mechanisms in order to delineate factors that predict responsiveness to tDCS. Previously, we established a tDCS protocol to improve response inhibition in a group of highly impulsive tobacco users and alcohol dependent patients. Using a simultaneous tDCS-fMRI approach, the proposed project now aims to identify neural correlates associated with improved response inhibition following anodal stimulation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. By shedding light on mechanisms underlying beneficial tDCS effects, the study will help to pave the way toward non-invasive treatment options.