An Hour of Light and Sound a Day Might Reverse Alzheimer’s

A flashing white light and a trilling sound reversed signs of Alzheimer’s in mice. Now researchers are trying the treatment on humans to see what it might do.

The new research is looking beyond drugs to see what relief might come from a simple LED light and a speaker operating at 40 hertz. People bathed in the flashing light and pulsing sounds both tuned to a frequency of 40 hertz could possibly see key signs of Alzheimer’s reversed.

The research was conducted on mice doomed by scientists to develop key symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. When Li-Huei Tsai, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience and director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, tuned her light to flash 40 times a second, or 40 hertz, and flickered it at the mice, their brains started generating gamma waves at a corresponding 40 hertz.

Then, something amazing happened. The light flicker triggered the brain’s immune cells to start clearing cell debris and toxic waste including amyloid. These immune cells are impaired in Alzheimer’s disease, but the light restored their abilities. The amount of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the mice that saw the light had plummeted.

This first round of tests with the light alone cleared out the brain’s visual cortex where the brain processes light information. To penetrate deeper into the brain, she added a sound also at 40 hertz.

When the mice were exposed to both the flashing light and the sound for an hour day, seven days in a row, not only did the audio and visual cortices see improvement, but the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus did too.

Researchers do not know why these brain waves arising from light and sound stimulation at 40 hertz can lead to a reversal of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. The treatment appears to work by inducing gamma oscillation brain waves that help the brain suppress beta amyloid production and help activate cells responsible for destroying these dangerous plaques.



Image: “Stellar network” by Alex Sukontsev is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0