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The Longitudinal Effects of Repetitive tDCS on Cigarette Consumption: An EMA and EEG Study (NCT03027687)

Bilateral (left cathodal/ right anodal) transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) seems to reduce craving and to increase the time till smoking the first cigarette after the intervention. More interesting however, is to study whether actual cigarette consumption decreases after repetitive tDCS. The current study will explore this by means of EMA in a large sample of 60 smokers. Participants will receive twice daily sessions of real tDCS or sham for three days in one week. Furthermore, electrophysiological responses (ERPs) will be measured at baseline, one day after the last tDCS session and at three months follow up to study the working mechanism behind the effects of tDCS.
  • Device: tDCS
    tDCS is an electrical brain stimulation method
    • transcranial direct current stimulation
Ages eligible for Study
18 Years to 65 Years
Genders eligible for Study
Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Inclusion Criteria:
  • Currently smoking 10 or more cigarettes a day
  • The ability to speak, read, and write in Dutch at an eight-grade literacy level
Exclusion Criteria:
  • The current abuse of a substance other than nicotine or caffeine
  • History of neurological or psychiatric disorders
  • Any contraindication for electrical brain stimulation procedures such as electronic implants or metal implants
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding
  • In the process of quitting smoking
The proposed experiment is a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. 60 smokers will be randomly assigned to two conditions, namely tDCS or sham (placebo).

Participants will receive real tDCS or sham for three days in one week. The interventions contain twice daily sessions for 13 minutes with an interval of 20 min. Moreover, on the first treatment day and the day after the treatment week, participants complete a number of questionnaires, and perform two psychological tasks (a gambling task and the Go/NoGo task). During these tasks, event-related potentials will be recorded by means of EEG. After three months, participants are asked to return to fill out the same questionnaires and perform the same psychological tasks as before, to measure the lasting effect of tDCS. During this last session, event-related potentials will also be recorded. In addition, carbon monoxide levels will be measured on all days where subjects perform the tasks.


For three weeks, starting the week before tDCS treatment, participants are asked to log every cigarette before they smoke one. During these weeks, participants complete EMA questionnaires on their mobile phone about cigarette consumption, craving, and affect that will take approximately 5 minutes. The EMA questionnaire will be presented four times daily on a quasi-random basis. Finally, during end-of-day assessments participants have the possibility to indicate any missed cigarettes. At three months follow-up, participants are asked to undergo the same EMA procedure for one more week, to study the lasting effects of tDCS.

1 locations

Netherlands (1)
  • Erasmus University
    Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands, 3000 DR
31 October, 2016
18 January, 2017
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