By Will Boggs, MD
“Our preliminary data on Alzheimer’s disease patients are promising as we observed beneficial effects after a single session of transcranial direct current stimulation,” Dr. Alberto Priori from the University of Milan told Reuters Health, “suggesting that chronic daily application might induce even greater improvement.”
“Our studies encourage broader research programs using different stimulation protocols and longer clinical follow-up to clarify the impact this therapy might have on patients’ daily functional activities,” Priori added.
Priori and colleagues investigated whether electrical stimulation applied over an area at the side of the brain called the temporoparietal cortex could improve recognition memory in 10 patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
The treatment significantly improved word recognition memory accuracy, they found report, whereas sham treatment had no impact on memory.
The results were similar after correcting memory performance for guessing, the report indicates.
“Interestingly,” the investigators say, the electrical stimulation-induced improvement in the word recognition test observed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease is comparable to the 16 percent improvement induced by long-term treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors – drugs currently used to treat early memory problems in patients with dementia.
“We are assessing possible long-lasting effects of (electrical stimulation) in Alzheimer’s disease patients using repeated session protocols in a larger sample with longer clinical follow-up,” Priori said.
“We believe that the best results, especially in Alzheimer’s disease patients, could be obtained by combining transcranial direct current stimulation with cognitive rehabilitation,” Priori added.