Treatment of primary progressive aphasias by transcranial direct current stimulation combined with language training

Maria Cotelli, Rosa Manenti, Michela Petesi, Michela Brambilla, Maura Cosseddu, Orazio Zanetti, Carlo Miniussi, Alessandro Padovani, Barbara Borroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is an untreatable neurodegenerative disorder that disrupts language functions. Previous studies have demonstrated transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may improve language symptoms in patients with post stroke aphasia or neurodegenerative diseases. Objective: The present study investigated whether the application of anodal tDCS (AtDCS) to the scalp overlying the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which may increase cortical excitability, in combination with individualized speech therapy would improve naming accuracy in the agrammatic variant of PPA (avPPA). Methods: Sixteen avPPA patients were randomly allocated into two subgroups: AtDCS (n = 8) or placebo tDCS (PtDCS). tDCS was applied over the left DLPFC (BA 8/9) 25 minutes per day for two weeks (10 days). Each patient underwent 25 minutes of individualized speech therapy with either AtDCS or PtDCS during each treatment session. Neuropsychological assessment, experimental naming, and linguistic abilities in daily living were assessed at baseline (T0), after two weeks of intervention (T1) and at a 12-week follow-up (T2). Results: Significant improvement in experimental naming was observed in both groups at T1 and T2, but this effect was significantly greater in AtDCS than PtDCS patients. Naming correctness, as assessed using the Aachener Aphasie Test, increased selectively in the AtDCS group from T0 to T1, and this effect remained significant at T2. The analysis of daily living language abilities improved selectively in AtDCS group. Conclusion: Our results support the beneficial effect of targeted language training in combination with brain stimulation in avPPA patients. tDCS should be considered a useful tool for the improvement of language functions in patients with neurodegenerative diseases in future trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Aphasia
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • non-invasive brain stimulation
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Treatment of primary progressive aphasias by transcranial direct current stimulation combined with language training'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this