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Electrical Stimulation and Verbal Memory in Alzheimer's Disease


Progressive damage to nerve cells in the brain leads to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. This study will test transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to prevent or slow nerve cell damage in the brain and improve verbal memory in people with Alzheimer's disease.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
50 Years 75 Years All No
August 1, 2020
July 31, 2025

Aphasic/atypical AD participants:

  • Must be right-handed
  • Must read and speak English well
  • Must have a high-school education, at minimum
  • Must be diagnosed as having logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia (PPA-L) with Alzheimer's disease (AD) biomarkers. Other possible diagnoses for the aphasic AD variant dementia with speech issues would be mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or possible AD according to 2011 NIA-AA guidelines

Amnesic/typical AD participants:

  • Must be right-handed
  • Must read and speak English well
  • Must have a minimum of high-school education
  • Must be diagnosed with probable AD in specialized diagnostic centers with neuropsychological and AD biomarkers according to 2011 NIA-AA guidelines

  • Left-handed individuals
  • Previous neurological disease including vascular dementia (e.g., stroke, developmental dyslexia, dysgraphia, or attentional deficit)
  • Significant hearing loss (>25 decibel, using audiometric hearing screen)
  • Uncorrected vision loss
  • Advanced dementia or severe language impairments with Mini-Mental State Exam <15, or Montreal cognitive assessment <10, or language Frontotemporal Dementia-specific Clinical Dementia Rating (FTD-CDR) = 3
  • People with preexisting psychiatric disorders such as behavioral disturbances, severe depression, or schizophrenia that make it difficult to follow the study schedule and requirements
  • Inability to undergo MRI (severe claustrophobia, cardiac pacemakers or ferromagnetic implants, pregnancy)

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a safe, noninvasive, non-painful electrical stimulation of the brain that is used to support nerve cell function. In this study, researchers will target tDCS treatment to language areas in the brain.

Participants will receive a word-list learning intervention plus either tDCS or a sham treatment for two learning cycles. Each learning cycle will last two weeks, with five sessions each week. Between the first and second cycle, there will be three months with no treatment. The researchers will schedule follow-up sessions with participants to conduct testing after each learning period.

To detect changes in the brain, participants will receive functional magnetic resonance imaging tests (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The researchers will also test each participants' nervous system and cognitive functions, including the use of a Mnemonic Similarity Test. Researchers will also collect physical and behavioral information, such as information on sleep habits.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore Maryland 21287 Recruiting Kyrana Tsapkini, PhD

Johns Hopkins University

Name Role Affiliation
Kyrana Tsapkini, PhD Principal Investigator Johns Hopkins University

Name Phone Email
Kyrana Tsapkini, PhD 410-736-2940
Olivia Herrmann, MS 8137482535


Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Typical and Atypical Alzheimer's Disease