Alzheimer's disease could be treated with electric shocks to the brain that rescue memory in the early stages of the disease, according to new research. A study using electric shocks in epilepsy patients found that stimulating the area of the brain that processes language 'reliably and significantly' boosted patients' ability to remember words. This method of treatment has been successfully used for epilepsy sufferers in the past to quell seizures but now researchers have found that patients' memory improved by 15 percent when fitted with a skull cap that sent electromagnetic pulses to that specific part of the brain. The findings offer hope of a therapy to stop symptoms of the crippling brain disorder at its earliest stages for the 5.5 million Americans suffering from incurable Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study with 25 epilepsy patients who wore a skull cap fitted with electrodes that sent electromagnetic pulses to the lateral temporal cortex.
The technique has been effective at reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy and has also shown promise for controlling Parkinson's disease.
Psychology professor and study author Michael Kahana said the findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that sending shocks to this area can benefit parts of the brain deeper within, such as the hippocampus, especially in the early stages of conditions such as dementia.