New MRI research confirms that acupuncture activates memory centers of the brain and therefore may benefit Alzheimer disease patients and those with mild cognitive impairment. Researchers used a Siemens verio 3-Tesla MRI scanner and discovered that stimulation of acupuncture points Liv3 (Taichong) and LI4 (Hegu) successfully activate regions of the cerebrum responsible for memory and cognition.
Three groups were studied: a mild cognitive impairment group, an Alzheimer’s disease group, a healthy patient control group. It was discovered that the resting state of healthy patients was significantly different than the resting brain states of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment patients. MRI imaging confirmed that acupuncture successfully activated specific brain states in Alzheimer’s disease patients and mild cognitive impairment patients that are otherwise pathologically deactivated. The researchers “speculate that acupuncture may have a great effect on patients such as AD (Alzheimer’s disease) and MCI (mild cognitive impairment) through modulating special brain network(s) or brain regional activity.”
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Wang Z, Nie B, Li D, Zhao Z, Han Y, et al. (2012) Effect of Acupuncture in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer Disease: A Functional MRI Study. PLoS ONE 7(8): e42730. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042730