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Alzheimer’s: Electrical stimulation can improve cognitive function, says study

The results of a clinical trial published in the journal General Psychiatry showed that non-invasive electrical stimulation of the brain of people with Alzheimer’s, when performed twice a day, can boost the patient’s mental processes (cognitive function).

The technology, known as transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, can help stimulate brain plasticity, enabling “rewiring” through the formation of new neural networks.

tDCS is a device with two electrodes, which are placed on specific areas of a person’s head, which provide a constant, low-intensity electrical current. The technique is beginning to be used in several areas of medicine, including the treatment of depression.

The researchers wanted to find out whether tDCS could improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease and, if so, whether this could be linked to the recovery of some level of cortical plasticity – the brain’s ability to form new neural networks.

Research process

Approximately 140 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease from four different hospitals were randomly allocated to receive 2 daily sessions of active or sham tDCS, 5 days a week for a maximum period of 6 days. weeks.

The results showed that after 2 weeks there was no change, but compared to the control group, 30 daily 20-minute sessions of tDCS significantly improved the cognitive function of those in the tested group.

In particular, word recall, test instruction recall, and word recognition were noted. The results also showed that, in people with impaired cortical plasticity, the cognitive system improved after 6 weeks of tDCS.

However, it is still unclear to researchers how tDCS can exert its effects. According to previous research, the technology can alter ionic activity, the release of neurotransmitters and electrical activity in various areas of the brain.

The researchers acknowledge several limitations in their findings, including the small size of the study, the lack of MRI or electroencephalography to map changes in brain structure, and the absence of cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples to monitor neurotransmitter changes.

But they still conclude: “The results of this study strongly indicate that tDCS treatment is a significant and promising intervention for improving cognitive function in [doença de Alzheimer]. Furthermore, plasticity plays a vital role in cognitive change.”

See also: Medicine contains 60% advancement of Alzheimer’s

Source: CNN Brasil

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