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Brain Stimulation Improves Brain Function in Alzheimer’s

Last Updated: May 11, 2012.

Deep brain stimulation can improve brain connectivity and function in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, and having a greater purpose in life reduces the effect of Alzheimer's pathology on cognitive function, according to one study published online May 7 in the Archives of Neurology and another study published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Deep brain stimulation can improve brain connectivity and function in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, and having a greater purpose in life reduces the effect of Alzheimer's pathology on cognitive function, according to one study published online May 7 in the Archives of Neurology and another study published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

In the first study, Gwenn S. Smith, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues performed deep brain stimulation of the fornix in five patients with mild, probable Alzheimer's disease. After a year of treatment, the researchers observed increased brain functional connectivity (as assessed by cerebral glucose metabolism) in two orthogonal networks. Increased metabolism in cortical regions was also noted, which was associated with improvements in global cognition, memory, and quality of life.

In the second study, Patricia A. Boyle, Ph.D., from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues assessed the effect of having a purpose in life on cognitive function in 246 elderly individuals living in the community. Clinical evaluations were performed annually and quantified pathological measures of Alzheimer's disease were collected postmortem. The investigators found that the deleterious effects of Alzheimer's pathology on cognitive function were reduced in those reporting a greater purpose in life.

"Higher levels of purpose in life reduce the deleterious effects of Alzheimer's disease pathologic changes on cognition in advanced age," Boyle and colleagues conclude. "Further studies are needed to determine whether purpose in life may be useful as a target for interventions aimed to reduce the public health burden of cognitive decline in aging and Alzheimer's disease."

Abstract - Smith
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Abstract - Boyle
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