Objectives. Preclinical studies suggest that cortical alterations within the prefrontal cortex (PFC) are critical to the pathophysiology of alcohol dependence. Combined transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) allows direct assessment of cortical excitability and inhibition within the PFC of human subjects. We report the first application of TMS-EEG to measure these indices within the PFC of alcohol-dependent (ALD) patients post-detoxification. Methods. Cortical inhibition was assessed in 12 ALD patients and 14 healthy controls through single and paired-pulse TMS paradigms. Long-interval cortical inhibition indexed cortical inhibition in the PFC. In the motor cortex (MC), short- interval intracortical inhibition and cortical silent period determined inhibition, while intracortical facilitation measured facilitation, resting and active motor threshold indexed cortical excitability. Results. ALD patients demonstrated altered cortical inhibition across the bilateral frontal cortices relative to controls. There was evidence of altered cortical excitability in ALD patients; however, no significant differences in MC inhibition. Conclusions. Our study provides first direct evidence of reduced cortical inhibition in the PFC of ALD patients post-detoxification. Altered cortical excitability in the MC may reflect hyper-excitability within the cortex associated with chronic alcohol consumption. These findings provide initial neurophysiological evidence of disrupted cortical excitability within the PFC of ALD patients.
- transcranial magnetic stimulation
- alcohol dependence
- dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
- cortical inhibition