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Brain Stimulation Shows Promise Against Alzheimer's

German pilot study found four of six patients kept, improved their memories one year later

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Last week, the Functional Neuromodulation group announced that their new research project has enrolled its 42 patients. Some of the patients will undergo stimulation of a part of the brain linked to memory; the others will have a device implanted but it will not be turned on.

The idea is to help a brain "circuit" work properly again, Brown University's Salloway explained. The treatment may even coax the creation of new neurons and connections in the brain.

As for cost, Salloway said Medicare covers brain stimulation for Parkinson's patients. "The biggest cost is the surgery for the implantation," he said. "Then there would be ongoing care, but hopefully the person doesn't need a lot of care and maintenance."

Osorio pointed out that deep brain stimulation is "not the therapy of choice" for Parkinson's disease, and is only used in select cases. He predicted that brain stimulation will be a second or third "therapy of choice" for Alzheimer's if it's even shown to work since it requires surgery to implant the electrodes.

The new German study appears in the May 6 online edition of the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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