Therapeutic Potential of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Primary Progressive Aphasia: Leigh Charvet, PhD


The professor of neurology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine provided commentary on a study that demonstrated the benefits of using tDCS along with sleep language training to promote naming in primary progressive aphasia. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

"Here, we can reach people anywhere in the country. We mail them tDCS devices and guide them completely through video visits, both with the speech and language training and the tDCS use. That’s a really important part. Central locations like ours can reach people across the country to provide this type of treatment."

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a type of dementia, is a neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to speak and communicate. Aphasia is a language disorder that results from damage to key parts of the brain that are responsible for understanding or producing speech and/or writing. While there are no cures for PPA, patients have benefited from participating in speech and cognitive therapy, as well as taking certain medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or therapies that are approved for Alzheimer disease.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a popular brain stimulation method that is used to modulate cortical excitability, producing facilitatory or inhibitory effects upon a variety of behaviors. tDCS involves the emission of a weak electrical current, traditionally via the placement of 2 electrodes attached to the scalp of a participant. At the 2024 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting, held April 13-18, in Denver, Colorado, investigators presented findings from an open-label, observational cohort study utilizing tDCS paired with individualized word retrieval training, delivered to patients with PPA at home via telehealth.

Led by Leigh Charvet, PhD, the trial enrolled 10 patients with PPA notable word-finding difficulties who underwent 20 daily (5/week) sessions of 45-minutes of personalized word retrieval training with concurrent tDCS stimulation over the left inferior frontal gyrus for the first 30 minutes. Following treatment, patients showed improvement in naming for trained vs untrained items (25.1 [±4.3] vs 20.2 [±7.5]; P = .003). From baseline to intervention end, the group significantly improved in confrontation naming (6.2 [±5.6] vs 7.8 [±5.2]; P = .016). Charvet, a professor of neurology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, sat down with NeurologyLive® during the meeting to discuss the study in detail, and some of the major clinical takeaways. She provided context on the feasibility of combining tDCS with individualized word retrieval and why this may be an effective approach for language issues in patients with PPA.

Click here for more coverage of AAN 2024.

1. George A, McConathey E, Vogel-Eyny A, Galletta E, Pilloni G, Charvet L. Use of tDCS alongside speech language training for personally relevant words promotes naming in individuals with PPA. Presented at: 2024 AAN Annual Meeting; April 13-18; Denver, CO. ABSTRACT 005146
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