Effects of transcranial electrical stimulation on episodic memory in physiological and pathological ageing

Marco Sandrini, Rosa Manenti, Hakan Sahin, Maria Cotelli

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Memory for personally-relevant past events (episodic memory) is critical for activities of daily living. Decline in this type of declarative long-term memory is a common characteristic of healthy ageing, a process accelerated in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) has been used as a strategy to ameliorate episodic memory. Here, we critically review studies investigating whether tES may improve episodic memory in physiological and pathological ageing.
Most of the studies suggest that tES over the prefrontal or temporoparietal cortices can have a positive effect on episodic memory, but the transfer to improvement of execution of daily living activities is still unknown. Further work is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying the effects of stimulation, combine tES with neuroimaging and optimizing the dosing of stimulation. Future studies should also investigate the optimal timing of stimulation and the combination with medications to induce long-lasting beneficial effects in pathological ageing.
More open science efforts should be done to improve rigor and reliability of tES in ageing research.

© 2020, Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. The attached document (embargoed until 08/04/2021) is an author produced version of a paper published in AGING RESEARCH REVIEWS uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020


  • Ageing
  • Memory
  • tDCS

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