Portable Neuroimaging-Guided Noninvasive Brain Stimulation of the Cortico-Cerebello-Thalamo-Cortical Loop—Hypothesis and Theory in Cannabis Use Disorder


Background: Maladaptive neuroplasticity-related learned response in substance use disorder (SUD) can be ameliorated using noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS); however, inter-individual variability needs to be addressed for clinical translation. Objective: Our first objective was to develop a hypothesis for NIBS for learned response in SUD based on a competing neurobehavioral decision systems model. The next objective was to develop the theory by conducting a computational simulation of NIBS of the cortico-cerebello-thalamo-cortical (CCTC) loop in cannabis use disorder (CUD)-related dysfunctional “cue-reactivity”—a construct closely related to “craving”—that is a core symptom. Our third objective was to test the feasibility of a neuroimaging-guided rational NIBS approach in healthy humans. Methods: “Cue-reactivity” can be measured using behavioral paradigms and portable neuroimaging, including functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and electroencephalogram (EEG) metrics of sensorimotor gating. Therefore, we conducted a computational simulation of NIBS, including transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) of the cerebellar cortex and deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) of the CCTC loop for its postulated effects on fNIRS and EEG metrics. We also developed a rational neuroimaging-guided NIBS approach for the cerebellar lobule (VII) and prefrontal cortex based on a healthy human study. Results: Simulation of cerebellar tDCS induced gamma oscillations in the cerebral cortex, while transcranial temporal interference stimulation induced a gamma-to-beta frequency shift. A preliminary healthy human study (N = 10) found that 2 mA cerebellar tDCS evoked similar oxyhemoglobin (HbO) response in the range of 5 × 10−6 M across the cerebellum and PFC brain regions (α = 0.01); however, infra-slow (0.01–0.10 Hz) prefrontal cortex HbO-driven phase–amplitude-coupled (PAC; 4 Hz, ±2 mA (max)) cerebellar tACS evoked HbO levels in the range of 10−7 M that were statistically different (α = 0.01) across these brain regions. Conclusion: Our healthy human study showed the feasibility of fNIRS of cerebellum and PFC and closed-loop fNIRS-driven ctACS at 4 Hz, which may facilitate cerebellar cognitive function via the frontoparietal network. Future work needs to combine fNIRS with EEG for multi-modal imaging for closed-loop NIBS during operant conditioning.

Brain Sciences