Transcranial direct current stimulation enhances theory of mind in Parkinson's disease patients with mild cognitive impairment: A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study: Translational Neurodegeneration

M. Adenzato, R. Manenti, I. Enrici, E. Gobbi, M. Brambilla, A. Alberici, M.S. Cotelli, A. Padovani, B. Borroni, M. Cotelli

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Background: Parkinson's Disease (PD) with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (PD-MCI) represents one of the most dreaded complications for patients with PD and is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia. Although transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been demonstrated to improve motor and non-motor symptoms in PD, to date, no study has investigated the effects of tDCS on Theory of Mind (ToM), i.e., the ability to understand and predict other people's behaviours, in PD-MCI. Methods: In this randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study, we applied active tDCS over the medial frontal cortex (MFC) to modulate ToM performance in twenty patients with PD-MCI. Twenty matched healthy controls (HC) were also enrolled and were asked to perform the ToM task without receiving tDCS. Results: In the patients with PD-MCI, i) ToM performance was worse than that in the HC, ii) ToM abilities were poorer in those with fronto-executive difficulties, and iii) tDCS over the MFC led to significant shortening of latency for ToM tasks. Conclusions: We show for the first time that active tDCS over the MFC enhances ToM in patients with PD-MCI, and suggest that non-invasive brain stimulation could be used to ameliorate ToM deficits observed in these patients. © The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransl. Neurodegeneration
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • Medial frontal cortex (MFC)
  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • Parkinson s disease (PD)
  • Theory of mind(ToM)
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
  • accuracy
  • aged
  • alexithymia
  • apathy
  • Article
  • clinical article
  • controlled study
  • double blind procedure
  • executive function
  • female
  • human
  • latent period
  • male
  • medial frontal cortex
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • neuropsychological test
  • Parkinson disease
  • priority journal
  • questionnaire
  • randomized controlled trial
  • reaction time
  • Stroop test
  • task performance
  • theory of mind
  • transcranial direct current stimulation

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