Electroacupuncture Modulates Resting-State Functional Connectivity in the Default Mode Network for Healthy Older Adults.
J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2019 Aug 13:891988719868304. Epub 2019 Aug 13. PMID: 31409183
Aging involves cognitive decline and prominent alterations in brain activity. Electroacupuncture (EA), a traditional Chinese medicine approach, is demonstrated to be effective in improving cognitive function of older adults. However, the specific neural mechanism underlying this modulation effect remains unclear. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate whether EA could improve cognitive performance of community-dwelling older adults and whether these potential improvements are associated with the EA-induced brain functional connectivity alterations. Thirty healthy older adults were recruited and randomly assigned to the EA group and the control group. Behaviorally, we observed an EA-induced improvement in cognitive performance of older adults in the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. On a neural perspective, the EA intervention significantly increased the functional connectivity within the default mode network. Moreover, we found a positive association between the improvement in delayed memory performance and the alterations in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex-hippocampal formation connectivity in the EA group. This study extends previous findings by showing that healthy older adults exhibit neural plasticity manifested as increased functional connectivity after EA sessions, which could induce therapeutic effects in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.