Cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, TBI and memory loss are an extremely key factor when considering a patient’s quality of life. Thankfully, non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy have proven to be an effective strategy when battling these otherwise treatment-resistant diseases.
Non-invasive brain stimulation practices such as TMS may provide a viable means for cognitive restoration to those individuals suffering, now and even more in the future as more research continues to unfold.
What is non-invasive brain stimulation?
There are varying forms of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) which help activate and mold the brains neural network plasticity. TMS devices were approved by the US Food & Drug Administration in October of 2008 for the treatment of depression in medication-resistant patients.
Since then, very little research from studies has gone into its effectiveness on cognitive enhancement or restoration. Despite this, in most trials where cognitive tests were included, evidence showed cognitive enhancements in neuropsychiatric disorders, helping to pave the road for future investigations targeting these diseases.
TMS for Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is characterized by loss of memory due to the limbic system’s degeneration. The scope of negative cognitive effects increases exponentially with time as the disease makes its progression to the neocortex. Many current medical approaches offer very limited improvement in cognitive symptoms and there is a very large global effort to finding new strategies.
Yet through the few studies that have been conducted linking cognitive improvement with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and TMS therapy, authors have reported a noted improvement in visual recognition memory and an improvement on the Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive (ADAS-cog) over varying periods of time and progression.
Cognitive Improvement Through TMS
This makes noninvasive brain stimulation therapies relevant and intriguing, as both TMS and tDCS allow for the facilitation of increased neuronal plasticity for long-lasting effects. These few trials to date have revealed many positive changes and provide initial evidence on not only the potential of halting the progression of the disease, but actually improving cognitive impairment that has already been in place.
Patients suffering from memory impairment, difficulty discerning visual patters, recalling lists of words or doing math problems may be able to find some hope in the very near future with increased research into TMS’ effectiveness with enhancing brain cognition. Overall, though the number of reliable studies focusing on neuropsychiatry is limited, the available data is promising.