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Vignaud, Philippe; Adam, Ondine; Palm, Ulrich; Baeken, Chris; Prieto, Nathalie; Poulet, Emmanuel and Brunelin, Jerome (2022): Can a single session of noninvasive brain stimulation applied over the prefrontal cortex prevent stress-induced cortisol release? In: Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 121, 110667

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Introduction: A better understanding of how the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis can be externally regulated is of major importance, especially because hyperreactivity to stress has been proposed as a key factor in the onset and maintenance of many psychiatric conditions. Over the past decades, numerous studies have investigated whether non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) can regulate HPA axis reactivity in acute stress situation. As the current results did not allow us to draw clear conclusions, we decided to conduct a systematic review of the literature investigating the effect of a single NIBS session on stress-induced cortisol release. Methods: We searched MEDLINE and Web Of Science for articles indexed through December 2021. Among the 246 articles identified, 15 fulfilled our inclusion criteria with a quality estimated between 52 and 93%. Results: Of the different NIBS used and targeted brain regions, stimulating the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, with either high frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or anodal transcranial direct current stimulation, seems to be the most appropriate for reducing cortisol release in acute stress situations. Conclusions: Despite the heterogeneity of the stimulation parameters, the characteristics of participants, the modalities of cortisol collection, the timing of the NIBS session in relation to the stressor exposure, and methodological considerations, stimulating the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex can be efficient to modulate stress-induced cortisol release.

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