Neuromodulation techniques for Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline
Even as the societal burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias increases, pharmaceutical trials targeting the associated toxic protein aggregates have disappointed. Neuromodulation devices apply energy (eg, electrical or ultrasound) to the brain to promote the recovery of function. As an alternative to pharmacologic interventions (drug therapies), neuromodulation therapies are nonsystemic and can directly target brain regions with stimulation waveforms designed to boost specific brain processes.
Neuromodulation devices can be surgically implanted or used noninvasively (on the scalp). Noninvasive neuromodulation treatments can involve repeated visits to a clinic, whereas some devices can be used at home. Neuromodulation therapies are established for indications such as depression, pain, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease, and include patients who were not responsive to drug therapies. Neuromodulation trials show promise in maintaining, and even reversing, cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative disorders.