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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 1850-1856

Acupuncture enhances brain function in patients with mild cognitive impairment: evidence from a functional-near infrared spectroscopy study

1 School of Mechanical Engineering, Pusan National University, Busan, Korea
2 Department of Neurology Disorders, Dunsan Hospital, Daejeon University, Daejeon, Korea

Correspondence Address:
Keum-Shik Hong
School of Mechanical Engineering, Pusan National University, Busan
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Source of Support: This work was supported by National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and ICT, Republic of Korea (No. NRF-2020R1A2B5B03096000, to KSH), Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1673-5374.332150

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Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. It is imperative to develop a proper treatment for this neurological disease in the aging society. This observational study investigated the effects of acupuncture therapy on MCI patients. Eleven healthy individuals and eleven MCI patients were recruited for this study. Oxy- and deoxy-hemoglobin signals in the prefrontal cortex during working-memory tasks were monitored using functional near-infrared spectroscopy. Before acupuncture treatment, working-memory experiments were conducted for healthy control (HC) and MCI groups (MCI-0), followed by 24 sessions of acupuncture for the MCI group. The acupuncture sessions were initially carried out for 6 weeks (two sessions per week), after which experiments were performed again on the MCI group (MCI-1). This was followed by another set of acupuncture sessions that also lasted for 6 weeks, after which the experiments were repeated on the MCI group (MCI-2). Statistical analyses of the signals and classifications based on activation maps as well as temporal features were performed. The highest classification accuracies obtained using binary connectivity maps were 85.7% HC vs. MCI-0, 69.5% HC vs. MCI-1, and 61.69% HC vs. MCI-2. The classification accuracies using the temporal features mean from 5 seconds to 28 seconds and maximum (i.e, max(5:28 seconds)) values were 60.6% HC vs. MCI-0, 56.9% HC vs. MCI-1, and 56.4% HC vs. MCI-2. The results reveal that there was a change in the temporal characteristics of the hemodynamic response of MCI patients due to acupuncture. This was reflected by a reduction in the classification accuracy after the therapy, indicating that the patients’ brain responses improved and became comparable to those of healthy subjects. A similar trend was reflected in the classification using the image feature. These results indicate that acupuncture can be used for the treatment of MCI patients.

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