Research: Acupuncture & Brain, Stroke, Neuro-Therapy Links & Abstracts

Bioengineering assessment of acupuncture, part 4: functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Crit Rev Biomed Eng. 2006;34(4):327-45.


In the fourth part of this review article, research on the topic of acupuncture and functional magnetic resonance imaging is described. Needle as well as painless laserneedle stimulation have led to significant changes in different areas of the brain. With the help of modern biomedical engineering equipment and neuroscience, some of acupuncture’s secrets have begun to be revealed. The neuro-modulating effects require further investigation in a larger population sample.

PMID: 17206918 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Comprehensive therapeutic protocol of electroacupuncture combined with Chinese herbs and rehabilitation training for treatment of cerebral infarction: a multi-center randomized controlled trial

[Article in Chinese] Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2010 Jan;30(1):6-9.


To evaluate the therapeutic effect of comprehensive therapeutic protocol of electroacupuncture combined with active-blood-and-dissolve-stasis herbs and rehabilitation training for cerebral infarction.


Noninvasive cortical stimulation enhances motor skill acquisition over multiple days through an effect on consolidation  (Neurological Therapy)

Early Edition > Janine Reis, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805413106  National Academy of Science of USA

Edited by Emilio Bizzi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and approved November 25, 2008 (received for review June 5, 2008)


Motor skills can take weeks to months to acquire and can diminish over time in the absence of continued practice. Thus, strategies that enhance skill acquisition or retention are of great scientific and practical interest. Here we investigated the effect of noninvasive cortical stimulation on the extended time course of learning a novel and challenging motor skill task. A skill measure was chosen to reflect shifts in the task’s speed–accuracy tradeoff function (SAF), which prevented us from falsely interpreting variations in position along an unchanged SAF as a change in skill. Subjects practiced over 5 consecutive days while receiving transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the primary motor cortex (M1). Using the skill measure, we assessed the impact of anodal (relative to sham) tDCS on both within-day (online) and between-day (offline) effects and on the rate of forgetting during a 3-month follow-up (long-term retention). There was greater total (online plus offline) skill acquisition with anodal tDCS compared to sham, which was mediated through a selective enhancement of offline effects. Anodal tDCS did not change the rate of forgetting relative to sham across the 3-month follow-up period, and consequently the skill measure remained greater with anodal tDCS at 3 months. This prolonged enhancement may hold promise for the rehabilitation of brain injury. Furthermore, these findings support the existence of a consolidation mechanism, susceptible to anodal tDCS, which contributes to offline effects but not to online effects or long-term retention.


An fMRI study showing the effect of acupuncture in chronic stage stroke patients with aphasia.

J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2010 Mar;3(1):53-7. doi: 10.1016/S2005-2901(10)60009-X.


Acupuncture is used as a treatment in stroke patients with aphasia, yet the underlying neural mechanisms are unknown. This study aims to examine the relationship between changes in language function and brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging in chronic stroke patients with aphasia who underwent an 8-week acupuncture protocol. Seven chronic stroke patients were identified from a stroke database of a regional acute hospital in Hong Kong between January and July 2007. Patients were treated three times a week over a period of 8 weeks. Four acupoints were stimulated on the weak side of the patient’s body. No other rehabilitation was given during the study period. Changes in language function were measured by aphasia quotient (AQ) of Cantonese Aphasia Battery (CAB). Functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen level dependent signals were used to demonstrate the correlation between changes in AQ and brain activation after treatment. The patients were divided into well-recovered and poorly- recovered groups based on their CAB scores at entry. The well-recovered group showed significant improvement in CAB scores after receiving acupuncture treatment. A significant correlation between changes in AQ and blood oxygen level dependent activation in the lesioned Wernicke’s speech area was found. These preliminary results suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial to language recovery in chronic stroke patients.

Copyright (c) 2010 Korean Pharmacopuncture Institute. Published by .. All rights reserved.


fMRI study of effect on brain activity according to stimulation method at LI11, ST36: painful pressure and acupuncture stimulation of same acupoints.

J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Apr;16(4):489-95. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0395.



The objective of this study was to assess differences in brain responses between pressure and acupuncture stimulation at the same acupoint using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).


In conclusion, brain signal activation patterns according to the stimulation methods and acupoints were observed to differ. Acupuncture stimulation activated more regions than pressure at the same acupoint. In particular, acupuncture stimulation activated the limbic system, such as the parahippocampal gyrus and ACC.


Acupuncture in poststroke rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials.

Stroke. 2010 Apr;41(4):e171-9. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.573576. Epub 2010 Feb 18.



Acupuncture is a low-risk treatment with purported claims of effectiveness for poststroke rehabilitation. To comprehensively assess the efficacy of acupuncture in poststroke rehabilitation, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomized clinical trials of acupuncture for poststroke rehabilitation.