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2011 Grants - Cotelli
Alzheimer's Disease: A New Approach to Cognitive Neurorehabilitation
Maria Cotelli, Ph.D.
Scientific Institute of Cure and Hospitalization
2011 New Investigator Research Grant
Alzheimer's disease, especially in early stages, tends to affect certain regions of the brain and certain cognitive functions more than others. In some instances, preserved regions of the brain can compensate for damaged regions and help to slow the loss of cognitive abilities. Recent studies have found evidence that certain forms of brain stimulation and behavioral training can enhance the ability of the brain to compensate for damaged regions, leading to short-term improvements in cognitive function.
Maria Cotelli, Ph.D. and colleagues have proposed a trial of brain stimulation plus memory training or movement training to improve cognitive deficits in persons with Alzheimer's disease. The brain stimulation they plan to use is called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which has been shown to be safe and have beneficial effects on cognitive function.
The researchers will enroll 36 individuals with Alzheimer's disease and randomly assign them to one of three groups: tDCS with memory training, placebo (inactive) tDCS with memory training, or tDCS with movement training. Each participant will receive 15 training sessions during a 3-week period.
Dr. Cotelli and colleagues will test each participant's cognitive function before training, at intervals during the training period, and at the end of training to determine if there were any changes in cognitive function. This study will directly test a potential method to partially restore cognitive function in persons with Alzheimer's disease, and could set the stage for more widespread use of this form of cognitive training.