Brain Stimulation Linked to Benefits in Alzheimer's

Therapy appears to result in improvements in sentence comprehension

FRIDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may have a beneficial effect on sentence comprehension in individuals with Alzheimer's disease, according to research published online June 23 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Maria Cotelli, Ph.D., of the IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli in Brescia, Italy, and colleagues analyzed data from 10 patients with probable moderate Alzheimer's disease who were randomly assigned to receive four weeks of rTMS stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or two weeks of placebo treatment followed by two weeks of real stimulation. The main outcome was change in cognitive test performance at two and four weeks after treatment began, with follow-up eight weeks after the end of treatment, compared to baseline.

The researchers found that the groups showed a significant difference over sessions in percentage of correct responses of auditory sentence comprehension. Both groups demonstrated a lasting effect on improved performance eight weeks after their treatment ended. Only the real treatment was associated with improvement in performance with respect to placebo or baseline. The use of rTMS for four weeks didn't lead to additional improvements in performance compared to two weeks.

"A number of investigations suggest that rhythmic transcranial stimulation can exert positive effects on cognitive performance. A possibility is that the modification of cortical activity through the use of rhythmic stimulation may readjust pathological patterns of brain activity, thus providing an opportunity to induce new, healthier activity patterns within the affected functional networks," the authors write.

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Eric Metcalf

Eric Metcalf

Published on June 25, 2010

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