Intermittent Electrical Stimulation Improves Working Memory for Alzheimer’s
Continuous deep brain stimulation is a widely used method of treatment for Parkinson’s, now shows potential to treat impaired memory of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to journal Current Biology.
Deep brain stimulation does not involve tissue destruction and is a reversible surgical treatment, thus is considered the most preferred option over other surgical methods such as thalamotomy and pallidotom, according to deep brain stimulation market report published by Coherent Market Insights.
Scientists conducted a test on monkey using intermittent stimulation, which is currently not used in any application in the brain in patients. The results showed that the monkeys were able to remember things up to five times longer in a standard test of working memory.
“A monkey who is a poor performer becomes a middle-of-the-pack performer after two to three months of this stimulation”, says Dr. David T. Blake, neuroscientist in the Department of Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
Scientists placed hair-thin electrodes into the brain of the monkeys to deliver electricity and increase the activity of the nucleus basalis of Meynert, a small area in the forebrain, which is usually degenerated for patients suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Their goals included making more of the chemical messenger acetylcholine available in the nucleus basalis. This region has a high concentration of neurons that are connected to brain areas critical for memory and cognition. When the function of that area of the brain is healthy, supply of acetylcholine flows readily through the brain, in turn, enabling communication between them.
The levels of acetylcholine in the brain naturally decrease with age, however, Alzheimer’s disease causes a rapid multiplier effect, which affects the memory of person severely, making than more than just being forgetful.
Scientists started with continuous stimulation, a usual clinical approaches. This however, showed an unexpected decline in performance. They then attempted intermittent stimulation, which surprising increased the availability of acetylcholine in the region of the brain enhanced memory performance.
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