Deep brain stimulation
targeting the frontal regions of the brain slows the decline of Alzheimer's
symptoms in affected patients.
- Deep brain stimulation implant can
slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
- The device similar to a cardiac
pacemaker is implanted into the frontal lobes of the brain.
- The procedure helps reduce disease
progression and improves problem-solving and decision-making skills in
early-stage disease patients.
For the first time, it was found that implanting electrical wires into
the frontal regions of the brains of patients affected with Alzheimer's could
slow down the decline of cognitive, behavioral, and functional abilities in
patients. The study was conducted by a research team at the Ohio State
University Wexner Medical Center and was published in the Journal
of Alzheimer's Disease.
While most studies have focused on improving the memory in Alzheimer's
patients, very few have attempted to alleviate the other aspects of the disease
including problem-solving and decision-making skills.
‘Pacemaker implanted into the brains of Alzheimer’s patients can reduce the overall performance decline typically associated with early-stage disease.’
"We have many memory aides, tools and pharmaceutical treatments to
help Alzheimer's patients with memory, but we don't have anything to help with
improving their judgments, making good decisions, or increasing their ability
to selectively focus attention on the task at hand and avoid distractions.
These skills are necessary for performing daily tasks such as making the bed,
choosing what to eat and having meaningful socializing with friends and
family," said Dr. Douglas Scharre, co-author of the study and director of
the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center's
In this study, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is used to modulate the
brain's frontal lobe's neural networks which are responsible for
problem-solving, organizing and planning, and judging abilities. By stimulating
this region of the brain, the cognitive and daily functional abilities of
Alzheimer's subjects declined more slowly than in Alzheimer's patients who were
not treated with DBS. The implant is similar to a cardiac pacemaker
except for the fact
that it is surgically implanted into the brain and not the heart.
While the procedure is invasive, the research team is looking forward to
developing non-surgical methods to stimulate the frontal lobe, which could slow
down the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in a less invasive manner.
The Success Story
The pilot scale study to test the effect of neuromodulation on
Alzheimer's symptoms included three participants. All three showed improvement,
including LaVonne Moore, 85, of Delaware, Ohio, who entered the study in 2013.
When she entered the study she was not capable of preparing any meal by
herself. After two years of deep-brain stimulation
now can independently assemble ingredients and cook simple meals.
Moreover, LaVonne is now capable of organizing outings which include
arranging transportation and choosing destinations. She could also select her
clothes without relying on others choices.
Tom Moore, LaVonne's 89-year-old husband, says that while his wife's
Alzheimer's disease has progressed, the progression has been much slower than
what he had expected. "LaVonne has had Alzheimer's disease longer than
anybody I know, and that sounds negative, but it's really a positive thing
because it shows that we're doing something right," Moore said.
the most common form
of dementia affects more than 5 million Americans, and by 2050, this number is
expected to rise as high as 16 million, according to the Alzheimer's
Association. The progressive neurodegenerative disease causes a steady decline
in memory and mental function in affected individuals, drastically reducing
their quality of life.
- Ohio State Study of Brain Pacemaker Shows Promise in Slowing Decline of Alzheimer's - (https://www.j-alz.com/content/ohio-state-study-brain-pacemaker-shows-promise-slowing-decline-alzheimers)