Objective: To assess whether exposure to non-invasive brain stimulation with transcranial alternating current stimulation at γ frequency (γ-tACS) applied over Pz (an area overlying the medial parietal cortex and the precuneus) can improve memory and modulate cholinergic transmission in mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease (MCI-AD). Methods: In this randomized, double-blind, sham controlled, crossover pilot study, participants were assigned to a single 60 min treatment with exposure to γ-tACS over Pz or sham tACS. Each subject underwent a clinical evaluation including assessment of episodic memory pre- and post-γ-tACS or sham stimulation. Indirect measures of cholinergic transmission evaluated using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pre- and post-γ-tACS or sham tACS were evaluated. Results: Twenty MCI-AD participants completed the study. No tACS-related side effects were observed, and the intervention was well tolerated in all participants. We observed a significant improvement at the Rey auditory verbal learning (RAVL) test total recall (5.7 [95% CI, 4.0 to 7.4], p < 0.001) and long delayed recall scores (1.3 [95% CI, 0.4 to 2.1], p = 0.007) after γ-tACS but not after sham tACS. Face-name associations scores improved during γ−tACS (4.3 [95% CI, 2.8 to 5.8], p < 0.001) but not after sham tACS. Short latency afferent inhibition, an indirect measure of cholinergic transmission evaluated with TMS, increased only after γ-tACS (0.31 [95% CI, 0.24 to 0.38], p < 0.001) but not after sham tACS. Conclusions: exposure to γ-tACS over Pz showed a significant improvement of memory performances, along with restoration of intracortical connectivity measures of cholinergic neurotransmission, compared to sham tACS.
- Alzheimer disease
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Transcranial alternate current stimulation
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation