Temporal cortex direct current stimulation enhances performance on a visual recognition memory task in Alzheimer disease

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2009 Apr;80(4):444-7. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2007.141853. Epub 2008 Oct 31.


Several studies have reported that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive method of neuromodulation, enhances some aspects of working memory in healthy and Parkinson disease subjects. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of anodal tDCS on recognition memory, working memory and selective attention in Alzheimer disease (AD). Ten patients with diagnosis of AD received three sessions of anodal tDCS (left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, left temporal cortex and sham stimulation) with an intensity of 2 mA for 30 min. Sessions were performed in different days in a randomised order. The following tests were assessed during stimulation: Stroop, Digit Span and a Visual Recognition Memory task (VRM). The results showed a significant effect of stimulation condition on VRM (p = 0.0085), and post hoc analysis showed an improvement after temporal (p = 0.01) and prefrontal (p = 0.01) tDCS as compared with sham stimulation. There were no significant changes in attention as indexed by Stroop task performance. As far as is known, this is the first trial showing that tDCS can enhance a component of recognition memory. The potential mechanisms of action and the implications of these results are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*