Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in elderly subjects. Recent studies verified the effects of cognitive training combined with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS-COG) in AD patients. Here, we analyzed neuropsychological and neurophysiological data, derived from electroencephalography (EEG), to evaluate the effects of a 6-week protocol of rTMS-COG in 72 AD. We designed a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial to evaluate efficacy of rTMS on 6 brain regions obtained by an individual MRI combined with COG related to brain areas to stimulate (i.e., syntax and grammar tasks, comprehension of lexical meaning and categorization tasks, action naming, object naming, spatial memory, spatial attention). Patients underwent neuropsychological and EEG examination before (T0), after treatment (T1), and after 40 weeks (T2), to evaluate the effects of rehabilitation therapy. "Small World" (SW) graph approach was introduced allowing us to model the architecture of brain connectivity in order to correlate it with cognitive improvements. We found that following 6 weeks of intensive daily treatment the immediate results showed an improvement in cognitive scales among AD patients. SW present no differences before and after the treatment, whereas a crucial SW modulation emerges at 40-week follow-up, emphasizing the importance of rTMS-COG rehabilitation treatment for AD. Additional results demonstrated that the delta and alpha1 SW seem to be diagnostic biomarkers of AD, whereas alpha2 SW might represent a prognostic biomarker of cognitive recovery. Derived EEG parameters can be awarded the role of diagnostic and predictive biomarkers of AD progression, and rTMS-COG can be regarded as a potentially useful treatment for AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer; Cognitive training; EEG; LORETA; Small World; rTMS.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to American Aging Association.