Combining noninvasive brain stimulation with behavioral pharmacology methods to study mechanisms of substance use disorder

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2 Scopus citations


Psychotropic drugs and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are effective for treating certain psychiatric conditions. Drugs and TMS have also been used as tools to explore the relationship between brain function and behavior in humans. Combining centrally acting drugs and TMS has proven useful for characterizing the neural basis of movement. This combined intervention approach also holds promise for improving our understanding of the mechanisms underlying disordered behavior associated with psychiatric conditions, including addiction, though challenges exist. For example, altered neocortical function has been implicated in substance use disorder, but the relationship between acute neuromodulation of neocortex with TMS and direct effects on addiction-related behaviors is not well established. We propose that the combination of human behavioral pharmacology methods with TMS can be leveraged to help establish these links. This perspective article describes an ongoing study that combines the administration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, with neuroimaging-guided TMS in individuals with problematic cannabis use. The study examines the impact of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) stimulation on cognitive outcomes impacted by THC intoxication, including the subjective response to THC and the impairing effects of THC on behavioral performance. A framework for integrating TMS with human behavioral pharmacology methods, along with key details of the study design, are presented. We also discuss challenges, alternatives, and future directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1150109
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Wesley and Lile.


  • addiction
  • behavioral pharmacology
  • brain stimulation
  • cannabis
  • neural technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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