Acupuncture Increases Brain Function for Patients with MCI

There has been a push in recent years to study mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which causes issues with memory, cognition and learning. MCI occurs prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and symptoms go beyond normal, age-related changes.

There are no pharmacological drugs available to treat MCI in the long-run, so researchers set out to discover if acupuncture could provide substantial medical benefits. The results of their efforts appear in the study “Modulatory effects of acupuncture on brain networks in mild cognitive impairment patients” published in the February 2017 issue of Neural Regeneration Research.

Half of the study participants received real acupuncture treatments specifically designed to improve cognitive functions in the brain. The other half of the patients received sham acupuncture which did not specifically treat MCI or increase cognitive function. All of the study participants had five acupuncture sessions per week for one month.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers tracked the lines of communications between different areas of the brain related to cognitive functions. The real acupuncture group showed a statistically significant increase in their cognitive brain functions after their treatments. The sham acupuncture group did not show any improvement in the cognitive-related areas of their brains.

The study showed that acupuncture is effective for improving cognitive functions in patients afflicted with MCI. Due to the low risk for side effects and the outstanding results of the study, the researchers recommended the use of acupuncture to improve cognition in MCI patients.

Source: Tan, T., Wang, D., Huang, J., Zhou, X., Yuan, X., Liang, J., … Chen, S. (2017). Modulatory effects of acupuncture on brain networks in mild cognitive impairment patients. Neural Regeneration Research, 12(2), 250–258.