Miss Elena Gomis-Vicent

Elena Gomis Vicent is a PhD Student at the University of East London. Her project is focused on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation for treating problem gambling. Previously she worked investigating the molecular regulation of neurodevelopmental disorders at the Institute of Physiology at The Czech Academy of Sciences. Elena holds a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Biology, completed with an internship at the Clinical Analysis Laboratory at the Oncology Institute of Valencia, followed by an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Valencia.

The effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour

Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) is emerging as a promising technique to modulate the neural mechanisms associated to addiction. Gambling disorder (GD) has been related to excessive impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour.

Aim: to investigate the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on GD cognitive processes by targeting dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC).

Design: two within-between participant experiments were conducted using two different High Density (HD) tDCS montages (experiments 1 and 2 respectively). Setting:  participants attended two tDCS sessions involving two within participant conditions (real stimulation and sham) and two between participant conditions (DLPFC or vmPFC).

Participants: 24 participants recruited in experiment 1 and 40 participants recruited in experiment 2 were grouped according to their impulsivity and gambling severity self-report measures. Intervention: participants received 20 minutes of tDCS stimulation/sham during two sessions (one week apart) while completing cognitive tasks.

Measurements: self-report measures included Urgency, Premeditation, Perseveration and Sensation seeking scale (UPPS-P) and South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). Behavioural measures were obtained with the CANTAB Cambridge Gambling Task.

Findings and conclusions: results revealed significant main effects of tDCS condition, tDCS condition-group interactions and tDCS condition-group-brain area interactions. GD cognitive processes seem to be modulated by tDCS, however more research is needed to establish which protocols will be able to precisely target distinct addictive behaviours, especially studies applying NIBS in clinical population and across multiple sessions, will help to understand the potential therapeutic effects of NIBS in addiction.


Dr Volker Thoma, University of East London Prof John Turner, University of East London Dr Davide Rivolta, Universitâ degli Studi di Bari Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, National Problem Gambling Clinic

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest