The University of Birmingham has been successful in bids for funding that will see key projects supported by the Guangzhou Municipal Government in China, including one which will look at memory improvement resulting from transcranial direct stimulation.

The project, led by Professor Kim Shapiro (pictured right), aims to test the effects of transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) to improve short-term (working) memory in patients who have experienced neurological difficulties including stroke, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Kim Shapiro

Various measures will be used to assess memory improvement, including tests from the Birmingham Cognitive Screen (BCoS), previously established for use in Southern China in the preceding University of Birmingham-Guangzhou project.

Four UoB-GMG joint projects have been successful in bidding for the 2016 research funding from Guangzhou Municipal Government. Receiving GBP200K government funding and the match funding from local partners, the research work will primarily be undertaken by the local research partner with technical support from the Birmingham academics.

These projects bring together the research strengths of the University with the needs of the Guangzhou market. The outcomes of the research projects will not only drive the economy of the region and provide social benefits, but will also enhance the University’s overall engagement with China, the second largest economy in the world. The University of Birmingham has been ranked by RCUK as third in the UK for joint publications with Chinese academics.

More about the project

Evidence in the literature suggests stimulation to left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) improves both working and declarative memory in non-patient and patient populations.  However, it is not clear from the literature 1) for which patient populations tDCS is effective, 2) for how long tDCS is effective following treatment of varying duration.  For this testing a sensitive assessment instrument of cognitive function is necessary.  The research team will test the tablet version of the BCoS for its ability to assess the effects of tDCS as described above.  A Cantonese version of the BCoS has been developed in the Guangzhou No. 1 Hospital in a previous project and shown to be sensitive to cognitive deficits in populations experiencing stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumour, and dementia.  Here the team will measure its ability to assess working memory changes (n-back task; change detection task) and modify as necessary to achieve this aim.