New Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease Uses 40Hz Flashing Light to Jump-Start Gamma-Rhythm
A new treatment may be able to help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. The therapy is based on the breakthrough research from MIT. MIT scientists found that shining a flashing light 40 times per second into the eyes of mice with a rodent version of Alzheimer’s disease resulted in activation of the brain’s cleanup system, reduction in plaques associated with the disease, and improvement of brain gamma waves that are commonly associated with cognitive activity. Exposure to the flashing light for an hour led to a noticeable reduction in beta amyloid plaques over the next day. Doing this every day for a week led to 60% reductions in beta amyloid plaques suggesting long-term improvement. 40Hz light therapy clearly shows a therapeutic potential.
But how do you convince a patient to stare at the flashing light for an hour? The AlzLife app solves this problem by inviting patients to solve cognitive puzzles on an iPad and uses the same iPad to stimulate patients with 40Hz flashing light.
Cognitive exercises have been shown to have a major effect on improving brain function. The brain’s cells are in some ways similar to muscles: when they are not exercised, they decline. Think of muscles under a cast. When a broken hand or a leg are not used for weeks to months, the muscles under the cast significantly reduce in size and strength.
To exercise the brain’s cells AlzLife includes popular cognitive games such as Sudoku, Tic-Tac-Toe, Clock Game, as well as memory strengthening activities. The games were designed specifically for older people with minimal computer skills and include many difficulty levels, from very easy to difficult. The light stimulation is provided around a game screen or in full-screen for combined therapy. The premise is that the 40Hz flashing light will restart the brain’s own 40Hz gamma rhythm (a.k.a. Gamma frequency entrainment), that is often diminished in Alzheimer’s patients. Once the brain’s own 40Hz gamma rhythm has been restarted it could be sustained by cognitive exercises.
AlzLife also includes a 40Hz sound therapy that can be used in combination with the 40Hz light therapy and cognitive games. The synergistic combination of the 40Hz light, sound, and cognitive therapy in AlzLife has the potential to improve the brain’s function better than any of these therapies alone. AlzLife is now available on Apple’s App Store.
• Iaccarino, H. F., et al. “Gamma frequency entrainment attenuates amyloid load and modifies microglia.” Nature 540.7632 (2016): 230.
• Thomson, H. “How flashing lights and pink noise might banish Alzheimer’s, improve memory and more” Nature (2018) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02391-6
• AlzLife in Apple’s App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id1327175926
• AlzLife application website: https://www.alz.life/
Andrey Vyshedskiy received a PhD in Neuroscience from Boston University and has conducted research in neuroscience and child psychology. He teaches at Boston University and was one of co-creators of AlzLife.