Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the precuneus enhances memory and neural activity in prodromal Alzheimer's disease

Giacomo Koch, Sonia Bonnì, Maria Concetta Pellicciari, Elias P Casula, Matteo Mancini, Romina Esposito, Viviana Ponzo, Silvia Picazio, Francesco Di Lorenzo, Laura Serra, Caterina Motta, Michele Maiella, Camillo Marra, Mara Cercignani, Alessandro Martorana, Carlo Caltagirone, Marco Bozzali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Memory loss is one of the first symptoms of typical Alzheimer's disease (AD), for which there are no effective therapies available. The precuneus (PC) has been recently emphasized as a key area for the memory impairment observed in early AD, likely due to disconnection mechanisms within large-scale networks such as the default mode network (DMN). Using a multimodal approach we investigated in a two-week, randomized, sham-controlled, double-blinded trial the effects of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the PC on cognition, as measured by the Alzheimer Disease Cooperative Study Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite in 14 patients with early AD (7 females). TMS combined with electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) was used to detect changes in brain connectivity. We found that rTMS of the PC induced a selective improvement in episodic memory, but not in other cognitive domains. Analysis of TMS-EEG signal revealed an increase of neural activity in patients' PC, an enhancement of brain oscillations in the beta band and a modification of functional connections between the PC and medial frontal areas within the DMN. Our findings show that high-frequency rTMS of the PC is a promising, non-invasive treatment for memory dysfunction in patients at early stages of AD. This clinical improvement is accompanied by modulation of brain connectivity, consistently with the pathophysiological model of brain disconnection in AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-311
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroImage
Volume169
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 19 2017

Keywords

  • Journal Article

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