Is non-invasive brain stimulation effective for cognitive enhancement in Alzheimer's disease? An updated meta-analysis

Šimko P, Kent JA, Rektorova I.

Clin Neurophysiol. 2022 Sep 28;144:23-40. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2022.09.010. Epubahead of print. PMID: 36215904.


14 Oct 2022

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Objective: Alzheimer's disease dementia (AD) and its preclinical stage, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), are critical issues confronting the aging society. Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques have the potential to be effective tools for enhancing cognitive functioning. The main objective of our meta-analysis was to quantify and update the status of the efficacy of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) when applied in AD and MCI.

Methods: The systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed and Web of Science according to PRISMA statement.

Results: Pooled effect sizes (Hedges' g) from 32 studies were analyzed using random effect models. We found both, rTMS and tDCS to have significant immediate cognition-enhancing effect in AD with rTMS inducing also beneficial long-term effects. We found no evidence for synergistic effect of cognitive training with NIBS.

Conclusions: In AD a clinical recommendation can be made for NEURO-ADTM system and for high-frequency rTMS over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) as probably effective protocols (B-level of evidence) and for anodal tDCS over the left DLPFC as a possibly effective.

Significance: According to scientific literature, NIBS may be an effective method for improving cognition in AD and possibly in MCI.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Brain stimulation; Dementia; MCI; Mild cognitive impairment; Noninvasive; rTMS; tDCS.

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