Enhancing cognitive restructuring with concurrent fMRI-guided neurostimulation for emotional dysregulation-A randomized controlled trial.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Transdiagnostic clinical emotional dysregulation is a key component of many mental health disorders and offers an avenue to address multiple disorders with one transdiagnostic treatment. In the current study, we pilot an intervention that combines a one-time teaching and practice of cognitive restructuring (CR) with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), targeted based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). METHODS: Thirty-seven clinical adults who self-reported high emotional dysregulation were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. fMRI was collected as participants were reminded of lifetime stressors and asked to downregulate their distress using CR tactics. fMRI BOLD data were analyzed to identify the cluster of voxels within the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) with the highest activation when participants attempted to downregulate, versus passively remember, distressing memories. Participants underwent active or sham rTMS (10 Hz) over the left dlPFC target while practicing CR following emotional induction using recent autobiographical stressors. RESULTS: Receiving active versus sham rTMS led to significantly higher high frequency heart rate variability during regulation, lower regulation duration during the intervention, and higher likelihood to use CR during the week following the intervention. There were no differences between conditions when administering neurostimulation alone without the CR skill and compared to sham. Participants in the sham versus active condition experienced less distress the week after the intervention. There were no differences between conditions at the one-month follow up. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that combining active rTMS with emotion regulation training for one session significantly enhances emotion regulation and augments the impact of training for as long as a week. These findings are a promising step towards a combined intervention for transdiagnostic emotion dysregulation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Neacsiu, AD; Beynel, L; Graner, JL; Szabo, ST; Appelbaum, LG; Smoski, MJ; LaBar, KS

Published Date

  • March 15, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 301 /

Start / End Page

  • 378 - 389

PubMed ID

  • 35038479

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9937022

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-2517

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jad.2022.01.053


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands