Alzheimer's Buddy: Use Flashing Light and Sound at 40Hz

Is this a joke? Believe it or not, there is new research that suggests this sort of therapy actually works. See these links for more information:

Picower Institute Article

40Hz Rhythms Fight Alzheimer's

NCBI Article 1

NCBI Article 2

WARNING: If you have epilepsy, or someone you live with does, be very careful using this!

WARNING: Some users have reported that their computer monitor acted weird after running this, and if you have any doubts about this, you should use it on a smartphone instead! I can verify that it works well on a recent iPhone without damage.

How it Might Work:

Come on, this must be a joke, right? No, really. Think about it— your eyes take in light which stimulates your retina, which sends pulses through your optical nerve, which is connected to... your brain! Your eyes are like a direct port to your brain, and can be electrically stimulated through optical stimulation. And if you think about it, your ears are quite similar— sound waves come into your ear and vibrate bones and hairs that cause neurons to fire electrical signals directly into your brain. So, it stands to reason that you could induce electrical behavior in your brain by stimulating both sensory modalities at the same time, using pulses at the same frequency. Why 40 times a second? That just seems to work the best in experiments with animals, but probably doesn't need to be exactly at that rate.

But then why should stimulating your brain with induced electrical activity help with anything, let alone Alzheimer's? Well, there's an old saying in neuroscience that "Neurons that fire together, wire together." By stimulating various parts of your brain to fire periodically 40 times a second in a synchronized way, that could cause areas of the brain to become better synchronized and connected. Does this explain exactly how or why this treatment might work? Of course not, it's just a "hand-waving" argument to show intuitively how it might help. But what do you have to lose? Unless you have epilepsy, using this should be harmless. And Alzheimer's is a horrible disease.

What do the Actual Scientists Say About It?

The article from the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease describes a study on the impact of 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) on cerebral Tau burden in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Here's a simplified explanation of their hypothesis and findings:

  1. Background of Alzheimer's Disease (AD): AD is characterized by the accumulation of two types of proteins in the brain - amyloid-beta (Aβ) and phosphorylated Tau (p-Tau). These proteins form aggregates that disrupt communication between neurons and trigger neuroinflammation, leading to neurodegeneration.
  2. 40 Hz Gamma Oscillations: Previous studies in animal models have shown that externally induced gamma oscillations at 40 Hz can reduce the buildup of these harmful proteins, presumably by activating microglia (the brain's immune cells).
  3. The Hypothesis: The researchers hypothesized that using tACS to induce 40 Hz gamma oscillations in the human brain might similarly help reduce the buildup of p-Tau and possibly Aβ proteins. This reduction could occur through the activation of microglia, which might then clear these harmful proteins more effectively.
  4. Methodology: The study involved administering 40 Hz tACS to patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease over a period of four weeks. PET imaging was used to measure levels of Aβ, p-Tau, and microglia activation before and after the intervention.
  5. Findings:
    • No adverse events were reported, indicating the safety of the procedure.
    • An increase in gamma spectral power was observed after treatment, suggesting that the brain's gamma oscillations were successfully modulated.
    • A significant decrease in p-Tau was observed in most patients, particularly in areas of the brain targeted by the tACS.
    • There was no significant change in Aβ levels and mixed results regarding microglia activation.
  6. Conclusion: The study provides preliminary evidence that 40 Hz tACS is a safe and feasible method to potentially reduce p-Tau levels in Alzheimer's patients. This could partially mimic the effects seen in animal models. However, the study calls for longer interventions and more comprehensive trials to fully assess the efficacy of this treatment.

In simpler terms, the study explores whether using a non-invasive brain stimulation technique at a specific frequency can reduce the buildup of harmful proteins in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, similar to what has been observed in animal studies. The initial results are promising for Tau proteins, but more research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the full impact of this treatment.

Another Study

The article "A Feasibility Study of AlzLife 40 Hz Sensory Therapy in Patients with MCI and Early AD" presents a study that investigates the feasibility of using a smart tablet application emitting light and sound at 40 Hz for treating patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and early Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Here's a simplified breakdown of the study and its findings: