Chinese researchers determined the changes in brain activity caused by acupuncture treatment in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. They reported that the multi-point Siguan (four gates) treatment activated different areas of the brain associated with cognition while also deactivating other parts.
The study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Its results were released in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
The participants consisted of healthy individuals, patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Both AD and MCI patients were randomly allocated to either the real acupuncture point group or the sham acupuncture point group.
Patients with AD and MCI received either multi-point Siguan acupuncture treatment or sham treatment. They were subjected to magnetic resonance imaging in order to determine the brain areas affected by real and sham treatment.
Siguan treatment induced the activation or deactivation brain areas that are connected with cognition, vision, and the sensorimotor stage. They also affected basal ganglia and the cerebellum.
In patients with AD and MCI, the treatment activated the inferior frontal gyrus, rolandic operculum, and supramarginal gyrus. The acupuncture treatment also deactivated areas involving cognition, vision, basal ganglia, and cerebellum.
Real acupuncture points triggered a larger number of specific brain changes than sham treatment did. Furthermore, these changes were not seen in the brains of healthy people.
The researchers believed that their experiment strengthened the argument in support of neuronal specificity of acupuncture.
If you would like to see the full study, you can find it at this site.
Shan Y, Wang J-J, Wang Z-Q, Zhao Z-L, Zhang M, Xu J-Y, Han Y, Li K-C, Lu J. NEURONAL SPECIFICITY OF ACUPUNCTURE IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT PATIENTS: A FUNCTIONAL MRI STUDY. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 17 July 2018;2018:1–10. DOI: 10.1155/2018/7619197.