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Verbal Fluency in Mild Alzheimer's Disease: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation over the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex

  • Authors: Smirni, Daniela; Oliveri, Massimiliano; Misuraca, Eliana; Catania, Angela; Vernuccio, Laura; Picciolo, Valentina; Inzerillo, Flora; Barbagallo, Mario; Cipolotti, Lisa; Turriziani, Patrizia
  • Publication year: 2021
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Background: Recent studies showed that in healthy controls and in aphasic patients inhibitory trains of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the right prefrontal cortex can improve phonemic fluency performance, while anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the left prefrontal cortex can improve performance in naming and semantic fluency tasks. Objective: This study aimed at investigating the effects of cathodal tDCS over the left or the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on verbal fluency tasks (VFT) in patients with mild Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Methods: Forty mild AD patients participated in the study (mean age 73.17 ± 5.61 years). All participants underwent cognitive baseline tasks and a VFT twice. Twenty patients randomly received cathodal tDCS to the left or the right DLPFC, and twenty patients were assigned to a control group in which only the two measures of VFT were taken, without the administration of the tDCS. Results: A significant improvement of performance on the VFT in AD patients was present after tDCS over the right DLPFC (p=.001). Instead, no difference was detected between the two VFTs sessions after tDCS over the left DLPFC (p=.42). Furthermore, these results cannot be related to task learning effects, since no significant difference was found between the two VFT sessions in the control group (p= .73). Conclusions: These data suggest that tDCS over DLPFC can improve VFT performance in AD patients. A hypothesis is that tDCS enhances adaptive patterns of brain activity between functionally connected areas.