We performed a systematic review of the studies employing repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in subjects with smoking addiction. High-frequency (HF) rTMS over the prefrontal cortex (PFC), in particular the left dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC), might represent a save and innovative treatment tool for tobacco consumption and craving in nicotine-dependent otherwise healthy people. rTMS can be effective for this indication also in patients with schizophrenia, but the results are conflicting and sufficient evidence from large-scale trials is still lacking. Promising results have been obtained using particular techniques for brain stimulation, such as deep rTMS and theta burst stimulation. Multiple-target HF rTMS can also have a potential in smoking cessation. fMRI and EEG recordings have proven to be useful for objectively assessing the treatment effects. TMS is likely to be most effective when paired with an evidence-based self-help intervention, cognitive-behavioral interventions and nicotine replacement therapy. However, the most recent studies employed different protocols and yielded heterogeneous results, which should be replicated in further controlled studies with larger sample sizes and rigorous standards of randomization. To date, no recommendation other than that a possible efficacy of HF-rTMS of the left DLPFC can be made for alternative rTMS procedures in nicotine craving and consumption.
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