Alzheimer's disease is a major worldwide health problem with no effective therapy. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has emerged as a useful therapy for certain movement disorders and is increasingly being investigated for treatment of other neural circuit disorders. Here we review the rationale for investigating DBS as a therapy for Alzheimer's disease. Phase I clinical trials of DBS targeting memory circuits in Alzheimer's disease patients have shown promising results in clinical assessments of cognitive function, neurophysiological tests of cortical glucose metabolism, and neuroanatomical volumetric measurements showing reduced rates of atrophy. These findings have been supported by animal studies, where electrical stimulation of multiple nodes within the memory circuit have shown neuroplasticity through stimulation-enhanced hippocampal neurogenesis and improved performance in memory tasks. The precise mechanisms by which DBS may enhance memory and cognitive functions in Alzheimer's disease patients and the degree of its clinical efficacy continue to be examined in ongoing clinical trials.
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