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Low-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of the Right Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Enhances Recognition Memory in Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Authors: Turriziani, Patrizia; Smirni, Daniela; Mangano, Giuseppa Renata; Zappalà, Giuseppe; Giustiniani, Andreina; Cipolotti, Lisa; Oliveri, Massimiliano
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Background: The lack of effective pharmacological or behavioral interventions for memory impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) emphasizes the need for the investigation of approaches based on neuromodulation. Objective: This study examined the effects of inhibitory repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of prefrontal cortex on recognition memory in AD patients. Methods: In a first experiment, 24 mild AD patients received sham and real 1Hz rTMS over the left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), in different sessions, between encoding and retrieval phases of a non-verbal recognition memory task. In a second experiment, another group of 14 AD patients underwent sham controlled repeated sessions of 1Hz rTMS of the right DLPFC across a two week treatment. Non-verbal recognition memory task was performed at baseline, at the end of the two weeks period and at a follow up of 1 month. Results: Right real rTMS significantly improved memory performance compared to right sham rTMS (p  = 0.001). Left real rTMS left the memory performance unchanged as compared with left sham rTMS (p  = 0.46). The two sham conditions did not differ between each other (p  = 0.24). In the second experiment, AD patients treated with real rTMS showed an improvement of memory performance at the end of the two weeks treatment (p  = 0.0009), that persisted at 1-month follow-up (p  = 0.002). Conclusion: These findings provide evidence that inhibitory rTMS over the right DLPFC can improve recognition memory function in AD patients. They also suggest the importance of a new approach of non-invasive brain stimulation as a promising treatment in AD.