Virtual neural network-guided optimization of non-invasive brain stimulation in Alzheimer's disease

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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique with potential for counteracting disrupted brain network activity in Alzheimer's disease (AD) to improve cognition. However, the results of tDCS studies in AD have been variable due to different methodological choices such as electrode placement. To address this, a virtual brain network model of AD was used to explore tDCS optimization. We compared a large, representative set of virtual tDCS intervention setups, to identify the theoretically optimized tDCS electrode positions for restoring functional network features disrupted in AD. We simulated 20 tDCS setups using a computational dynamic network model of 78 neural masses coupled according to human structural topology. AD network damage was simulated using an activity-dependent degeneration algorithm. Current flow modeling was used to estimate tDCS-targeted cortical regions for different electrode positions, and excitability of the pyramidal neurons of the corresponding neural masses was modulated to simulate tDCS. Outcome measures were relative power spectral density (alpha bands, 8-10 Hz and 10-13 Hz), total spectral power, posterior alpha peak frequency, and connectivity measures phase lag index (PLI) and amplitude envelope correlation (AEC). Virtual tDCS performance varied, with optimized strategies improving all outcome measures, while others caused further deterioration. The best performing setup involved right parietal anodal stimulation, with a contralateral supraorbital cathode. A clear correlation between the network role of stimulated regions and tDCS success was not observed. This modeling-informed approach can guide and perhaps accelerate tDCS therapy development and enhance our understanding of tDCS effects. Follow-up studies will compare the general predictions to personalized virtual models and validate them with tDCS-magnetoencephalography (MEG) in a clinical AD patient cohort.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1011164
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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