The effect of transcranial direct current stimulation on visual attention in mild cognitive impairment – a combined fMRI and non-invasive brain stimulation study
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease that progressively causes the breakdown of cognitive functions. From the disease onset, particularly semantic memory and spatial orientation have been affected. However, various aspects of visual dysfunctions have also been identified early in the course of the disease (Rizzo et al., 2000) affecting both lower-level vision (Valenti, 2010), e.g. nerve fiber deficits; lens opacities; functional losses in the magnocellular pathway and higher-level vision (Jacobs et al., 2012b; Rizzo et al., 2000), e.g. visual perception, visual working memory and visual attention (Krajčovičová et al., 2014a).
Recent research has been focused particularly on mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease (MCI-AD), i.e. the transitional stage between normal aging and dementia (Petersen, Negash, 2008, Albert, 2011). Since there is no pharmacological treatment available for MCI-AD an increased attention has been drawn to non-pharmacological interventions such as non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (NBIS), including repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) (e.g. Anderkova and Rektorova, 2014; Boggio et al., 2012; Ferrucii et al., 2008; Meinzer et al., 2015). TDCS represents a promising tool for modulating cognitive functions in physiological and pathological aging (Hsu et al., 2015) with practical potential because it is safe (Bikson et al., 2016), well tolerated (Kessler et al., 2012) and relatively affordable compared to other NBIS techniques.
The current study will combine MRI and tDCS techniques to investigate both specific stimulation-induced effects on attentional visual processing in MCI-AD patients as compared to age-matched healthy controls (HC) and neural correlates of these changes in both groups.
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