Transcranial direct current stimulation improved picture recognition among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or frontotermporal dementia, according to findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting.
“There is no symptomatic therapy for [frontotemporal dementia],” Howard Chertkow, PhD, of Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, and colleagues wrote. “Non-invasive electrical stimulation with [transcranial direct current stimulation] might offer a safe and inexpensive therapy for cognitive disorders.”
To assess efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for improving picture naming abilities in individuals with mild dementia, researchers conducted a double-blind, cross-over study among 12 individuals. Study participants received 10 sessions of training on picture naming plus 30 minutes of anodal tDCS applied to the parietal lobe or sham simulation. Evaluation occurred before stimulation, at the final stimulation session, 2 weeks after stimulation and 2 months after stimulation.
Study participants who received tDCS significantly improved in picture naming, compared with those who received sham stimulation.
Participants who received tDCS maintained significantly higher naming scores at all evaluations, according to researchers.
For untrained picture naming items, participants who received tDCS performed better than those who received sham stimulation.
Participants who received tDCS maintained significant improvement 2 months poststimulation, while participants who received sham stimulation exhibited a significant decrease 2 months poststimulation.
Digit span slightly increased among participants who received tDCS and decreased among participants who received sham stimulation.
“These results suggest that tDCS stimulation has promise as a treatment for the anomia of individuals with dementia, and the beneficial effect appears to generalize to unstudied items as well as attention,” the researchers wrote. “Further studies are warranted.” – by Amanda Oldt
Chertkow H, et al. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) improves picture naming in Alzheimer disease and frontotemporal dementia. Presented at: American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting; April 22-28, 2017; Boston.
Disclosure: The study was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research.