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Eur J Neurol. 2012 Nov;19(11):1404-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2012.03699.x. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Prefrontal cortex rTMS enhances action naming in progressive non-fluent aphasia.

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IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy.



Progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by non-fluent speech with naming impairment and grammatical errors. It has been recently demonstrated that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) improves action naming in healthy subjects and in subjects with Alzheimer's disease.


To investigate whether the modulation of DLPFC circuits by rTMS modifies naming performance in patients with PNFA.


Ten patients with a diagnosis of PNFA were enrolled. High-frequency rTMS was applied to the left and right DLPFC and the sham (i.e. placebo) condition during object and action naming. A subgroup of patients with semantic dementia was enrolled as a comparison group.


A repeated-measure anova with stimulus site (sham, left and right rTMS) showed significant effects. Action-naming performances during stimulation of both the left and right DLPFC were better than during placebo stimulation. No facilitating effect of rTMS to the DLPFC on object naming was observed. In patients with a diagnosis of semantic dementia, no effect of stimulation was reported.


Our study demonstrated that rTMS improved action naming in subjects with PNFA, possibly due to the modulation of DLPFC pathways and a facilitation effect on lexical retrieval processes. Future studies on the potential of a rehabilitative protocol using rTMS applied to the DLPFC in this orphan disorder are required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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