Research in mice features hinted that light and sound flickering at 40 hertz (Hz) may help deal with Alzheimer’s disease by restoring connection in the mind and mobilizing the disease fighting capability against toxic proteins.
Now, a pilot analysis involving persons with early Alzheimer’s shows that this novel way is safe and sound and tolerable.
The research also provides preliminary evidence that sensory flicker may restore brain connectivity and modify the disease fighting capability in persons with the disease.
The vast number of nerve cells in the mind - about 86 billionTrusted Way to obtain them according to one estimate - may actually coordinate their activities by firing in synchrony.
A definite firing frequency, at about 40 pulses per second (40 Hz) in the gamma frequency assortment, plays a pivotal part in brain functions, such as conscious awareness, perception, and memory.
Neuroscientists experience discovered, for example, that on the rare events when people become aware that they are dreaming, referred to as lucid dreaming, the effectiveness of electrical oscillations in 40 Hz intensifies within their brains.
There is also some people evidenceTrusted Source that stimulating a sleeping volunteer’s mind with a weak electric field pulsing at low gamma frequencies can induce lucid dreams.
Additional researchTrusted Source has discovered that the brains of folks who practice some varieties of meditation, that involves highly focused focus, have an unusually solid gamma signal during meditation and “instructed mind-wandering” practices.
Conversely, scientists include found disruptions in the gamma range in a number of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s diseaseTrusted Source.
“There is evidence that gamma activity is altered in persons with dementia,” said Annabelle Singer, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University in Atlanta.
“Just how gamma changes will depend on what brain regions are measured and what the participant is doing - like throughout a task vs. awake but resting,” she added.
Alzheimer’s disease can be an incurable, degenerative form of dementia that damages elements of the mind that play a role in thought, memory, and language.
The early stages, referred to as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), involve relatively mild lack of memory. On the other hand, the later stages contain debilitating symptoms, such as getting dropped in once familiar spots, poor judgment, and improvements in mood and character.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that in 2020, 5.8 millionTrusted Source persons in the United States were coping with Alzheimer’s.
Sensory flicker as a treatment?
Dr. Singer and her co-workers in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University will be developing a novel method of treating the disease that involves light and sound pulsing at 40 Hz.
The theory is that the flickering sensory stimuli will “entrain” nerves deep within the mind to fire at the same frequency, which may, over time, restore their shed connectivity.
In murine models of Alzheimer’s, the experts found that sensory entrainment at gamma frequenciesTrusted Source causes immune improvements that clear beta-amyloid, a toxic protein associated with the disease.
However, the consequences of this sort of sensory flicker in the brains of men and women with Alzheimer’s happen to be unknown.
The question also remained whether individuals would tolerate the treatment and stick with the necessary daily regimen of sensory stimulation.
To check its safety and tolerability, Dr. Singer’s laboratory enrolled 10 individuals with MCI associated with early Alzheimer’s.
They selected people with mild disease to make certain that they would manage to describe how well they tolerated the procedure.
In addition, they excluded a person with a history of migraine, tinnitus, or seizures from the analysis because flickering sensory stimuli can exacerbate these conditions.
The researchers randomly assigned the volunteers to either 8 weeks of 1 one hour of flicker treatment each day or 4 weeks with no treatment followed by four weeks of treatment.
This study design allowed them to take into account any effects related to the progression of the disease and the measurements that they completed within the experiment.
Through the treatment, the participants wore a great experimental visor and headphones that shipped flashes of light and sound at 40 Hz.
The researchers report that no extreme adverse events occurred with regards to these flickering stimuli.
Among the mild adverse events that the treatment may or may well not have induced were dizziness, tinnitus, headaches, and worsened hearing loss.
Electroencephalography (EEG) recordings revealed that the participants’ human brain activity synchronized with the 40-Hz stimulation.
Furthermore, MRI brain scans after eight weeks of daily flicker suggested a strengthening of connectivity between two nodes of the brain’s default mode network, which is involved in self-referential thought processes.
Connectivity between these particular nodes may weaken while Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
After eight weeks of treatment, there is also evidence from immune signaling molecules in the participants’ cerebrospinal fluid that the 40-Hz brain stimulation was modifying their immune system.