The study aimed to evaluate the effects of noninvasive brain stimulation on cognitive function in healthy older adults and patients with Alzheimer's disease. A comprehensive literature search was performed on noninvasive stimulation studies published from January 1990 to November 2014 in Pubmed and Web of Science. Fourteen articles with a total of 331 participants were identified as studies with healthy older adults, and the mean effect size and 95% confidence interval were estimated. A significant effect size of 0.42 was found for the cognitive outcome. Further subgroup analyses demonstrated more prominent effects for studies delivering the stimulation before the execution of the task and studies applying multiple sessions of stimulation. To assess the effects of stimulation on Alzheimer's disease patients, 11 studies with a total of 200 patients were included in the analysis. A significant effect size of 1.35 was found for the cognitive outcomes. Subgroup analyses indicated more pronounced effects for studies applying the stimulation during the execution of the task compared with studies delivering the stimulation before the execution of the task. Noninvasive brain stimulation has a positive effect on cognitive function in physiological and pathological aging.
Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer's disease (AD); Cognitive function; Meta-analysis; Neuronal plasticity; Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS); Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).
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