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Targeting Verbal Short-Term Memory in Conjunction with tDCS in Neurodegenerative Disorders


This research project will investigate the effects of a combination treatment of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and short-term memory therapy in people with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) and related neurodegenerative conditions. PPA is a neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by the gradual loss of language functioning.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
45 Years 80 Years All No
August 28, 2019
October 2025

  • Diagnosed with semantic variant PPA, nonfluent/agrammatic variant PPA, logopenic variant PPA, unclassifiable PPA, frontotemporal dementia, mild Alzheimer's disease, or mild cognitive impairment
  • Diagnosis will be based on neuropsychological testing, language testing, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and clinical assessment
  • Right-handed
  • Native speaker of English
  • At least 12th grade education

  • Uncorrected visual or hearing impairment by self report
  • Stroke or other preexisting neurological disorder affecting the brain
  • Language-based learning disorder other than PPA
  • Inability to follow directions for baseline tasks
  • Western Aphasia Battery Aphasia Quotient less than 30 (indicating severe language impairment)
  • Exclusion criteria for MRI: severe claustrophobia, cardiac pacemakers, certain metal implants, and pregnancy

tDCS is a noninvasive therapy that delivers weak electrical current to the brain. In this study tDCS will be paired with short-term memory therapy in which participants will be trained in a series of word sequences. Over the course of a year, participants will undergo the training along with both stimulation and sham sessions for 3-week periods (5 sessions in a week, 15 sessions per stimulation site). Researchers will evaluate changes in verbal short-term memory, language abilities, well-being, and quality of life, as well as changes in brain structure and function using MRI.

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

Johns Hopkins University

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

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

Name Phone Email
Kyrana Tsapkini, PhD 410-736-2940


Targeting Verbal Short-term Memory in Conjunction With Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) in Neurodegenerative Disorders