Influence of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on the inhibition of emotional information in healthy volunteers

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Evidence suggests that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) might be a promising new treatment procedure for depression. However, underlying working mechanisms of this technique are yet unclear. Multiple sessions of rTMS may – apart from the reported antidepressant effects – cause primary improvements in attentional control over emotional information, modulated by changes in cortical brain excitability within stimulated prefrontal regions.


In two experiments, we examined the temporary effects of high-frequency (HF) rTMS (10 Hz) applied over the left and right DLPFC on the attentional processing of emotional information and self-reported mood within samples of healthy volunteers.


The present study showed that one session of HF-rTMS over the right DLPFC produces instant impairments in the ability to inhibit negative information, in line with a characteristic cognitive vulnerability found in depressive pathology, whereas HF-rTMS of the left DLPFC did not lead to significant changes in attentional control. These effects could not be attributed to mood changes.


The findings of the present study may suggest a specific involvement of the right DLPFC in the attentional processing of emotional information.

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