Can Alzheimer's Disease Be Prevented? First Evidence from Spinal Stimulation Efficacy on Executive Functions

Francesca Pisano, Carlo Caltagirone, Federica Satriano, Roberta Perri, Lucia Fadda, Paola Marangolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Recently, a growing body of evidence has shown that, from the early stage of impairment, Alzheimer's patients (AD) present difficulties on a variety of tasks mostly relying on executive functions. These strongly impact their daily life activities causing a severe loss of independency and autonomy. Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of transpinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) combined with cognitive trainings for improving attentional and executive function abilities in a group of AD patients. Methods: In a randomized-double blind design, sixteen AD patients underwent different cognitive trainings combined with tsDCS. During the treatment, each subject received tsDCS (20 min, 2 mA) over the thoracic vertebrae (IX-X vertebrae) in two different conditions: 1) anodal, and 2) sham while performing three computerized tasks: alertness, selective attention, and executive functions. Each experimental condition was run in ten consecutive daily sessions over two weeks. Results: After anodal tsDCS, a greater improvement in executive functions compared to sham condition was found. More importantly, the follow-up testing revealed that these effects lasted over 1 month after the intervention and generalized to the different neuropsychological tests administered before, after the treatment and at one month after the end of the intervention. This generalization was present also in the attentional domain. Conclusion: This evidence emphasizes, for the first time, that tsDCS combined with cognitive training results efficacious for AD patients. We hypothesize that enhancing activity into the spinal sensorimotor pathways through stimulation improved cognitive abilities which rely on premotor activity, such as attention and executive functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1755-1764
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • cognitive training
  • neuromodulation
  • transpinal stimulation
  • tsDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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