The aim of this study, funded by the European Commission (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, the Horizon 2020 program), is to improve episodic memory through a non-pharmacological treatment in elderly individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Since September 2016, following approval of Ethical Committee, the Principal Investigator Dr. Marco Sandrini has initiated research at the Casa di Cura del Policlinico with the scientific supervision of Dr. Massimo Corbo, Scientific Director of the Department of Neuroriabilitative Sciences of CCP.


Horizon 2020 – EU Framework Program for Scientific Research and Innovation Excellence Marie- Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MCSA) – Reintegration Panel in European Fellowship (EF).

Project Coordinator and Host Organization

Casa di Cura Privata del Policlinico, Department of Neuroriabilitative Sciences, Via G. Dezza 48, 20144, Milan.

Participating Operative Units

1) Laboratory of Molecular Medicine and Biotechnology, Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation, IRCCS S. Maria Nascente

2) Neuroimaging Research Unit, University Vita Salute San Raffaele (UniSR), Milan and San Raffaele Scientific Institute

Study Title

Targeting reconsolidation to strengthen memories in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. RI-Reintegration panel; Proposal number: 658496; Proposal acronym: MemoMCI; Official link


Memory for unique personal experiences (episodic memory) is critical to daily life functioning. This form of long-term memory also displays the largest degree of age-related decline. This condition is accelerated in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), which is often the precursor for emerging Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Given the limited effectiveness of current drug treatments, it is necessary to develop alternative/innovative therapeutic approaches such as transcranial direct current stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation-tDCS). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has proven effective in improving long-term memory in healthy subjects (Sandrini and Cohen, 2014). In addition, the consolidated memories can return to a state of instability (susceptible to modifications) when they are reactivated and require a reconsolidation process to return to a state of stability. During this short period of plasticity, memory can be modified by tDCS (Sandrini et al., 2015). Recent studies in young and elderly subjects have shown that non-invasive stimulation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) strengthens memory through the reconsolidation process (Sandrini et al., 2013, 2014). Furthermore, in order to develop an effective therapeutic intervention to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to address the problem of inter-individual variability in the effects of brain stimulation. Specifically this research project investigates how changes in brain structure or in the presence of genetic polymorphisms influence the individual response.


The aim of the study is to identify individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who will benefit most from treatment with non-invasive electrical stimulation (tDCS) based on integrity of some aspects found on their MRI exams and in relation to the characteristics of some of their genes associated with memory.

Subjects Involved

Individuals (aged between 50 and 90 years with at least 5 years of education) with related memory disorders, in particular subjects with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but in the absence of dementia.


The study includes an initial cognitive assessment, MRI exam, and blood collection for genetic analysis, a second visit for a learning session of words, and a third visit (24 hours after the previous one) for a non-invasive electrical stimulation session (tDCS). There will also be two other sessions involving the retrieval of the learned material (2 and 30 days after the second session). TDCS is a technique used to stimulate different parts of the brain in non-invasive manner, usually with no pain and no side effects.


The research will determine the extent to which tDCS will enhance episodic memory. In addition, the research will contribute both to increase knowledge on brain mechanisms and genetic patterns responsible for cognitive impairment, and to the evaluation of the influence of these patterns in response to treatment with tDCS. Therefore, this knowledge could be useful for developing a novel therapeutic intervention for individuals with memory disorders.


24 months following the beginning of the approval of the Ethical Committe.


Dr. Marco Sandrini, Principal Investigator

Dr. Massimo Corbo, Scientific Supervisor

Dr. Alessia Monti, Co-Investigator


Researcher: Dr. Marco Sandrini


Project Coordinator: Ms. Valentina Brunati

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