Individuals with anxiety disorders are approximately twice as likely as the general population to experience alcohol addiction and vice versa. The affinity toward addiction is especially high in the case of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Animal and human work has suggested that the neurocircuitry largely overlaps in both the expression and extinction of fear and craving. This study involves utilizing one session of non-invasive brain stimulation (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) to enhance extinction learning as measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging, in both healthy individuals and those with PTSD and alcohol addiction. While this is a single session study, the goal of this study is two identify promising new brain targets to be used therapeutically for individuals suffering from PTSD and alcohol addiction.
In this study we are assessing ways in which people pay attention and make decisions. We will test whether certain brain regions are central to these processes by using brain stimulation, specifically transcranial magnetic stimulation to briefly disrupt attention and decisions in the context of a computer game.
The current investigation uses a brain-based technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which has helped to treat depression, to try to stimulate those brain regions understood to be essential to emotional experience and impaired in PTSD. In summary, the aim is to enhance emotion engagement and regulation and possibly uncover new brain-based interventions that could help ready the brain so an individual with PTSD could then fully engage and thus optimize emotion-focused psychotherapy.