Gamma Waves Critical To Brain Health
Despite decades of research, Alzheimer’s disease is still a lethal neurodegenerative disorder. In fact, neurodegenerative disease is the fastest-growing cause of death on earth.
Several factors, including genetics, brain trauma and neurotoxins can trigger Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease and other forms of neurodegenerative disease. We know that pharmaceuticals cannot prevent brain disease or cure it, yet, but we are finding hope in alternative therapies right now.
For example, gamma waves produced in the body help connect and process information throughout the brain. These gamma waves are diminished in people who have Alzheimer’s disease. New research shows that exposure to light flickering at the rate of 40 flashes per second (40Hz) is therapeutic. It increases gamma brainwaves, which help clear beta amyloid plaque in the brain. When this plaque builds up in the heart, it can cause a heart attack. When it builds up in the brain, it kills brain cells until the body wastes away into dysfunction and death.
New research suggests that exposure to a light flickering at 40Hz may promote gamma brain wave activity in the brain. These waves have the potential to activate critical cleaning cells in the brain that could remove beta amyloid plaque.
Gamma brain activity (∼25-100Hz) is known for its role in cognitive function, including memory. Abnormal gamma waves have been observed in both mice and humans with Alzheimer’s disease. Research indicates that gamma entrainment therapy can reduce loss of functional connectivity and brain atrophy, improve cognitive function, and purge harmful proteins from the brain. Pathological proteins contributing to Alzheimer’s disease are known to disrupt normal neuronal functions in the brain.
Based on these findings, the current study will evaluate whether non-invasive sensory stimulation inducing cortical 40Hz gamma oscillation is clinically beneficial for patients. The GammaSense Stimulation system is used for 60 minutes daily during the six-month therapy phase, followed by one follow-up visit. Researchers are seeking outcomes in cognition, they hope to measure efficacy in the removal of amyloid plaque in the brain.
Participants in the treatment group receive precisely timed, 40 Hz visual and auditory stimulations to induce cortical 40Hz steady-state brainwaves. The sessions are performed with the eyes closed for one hour per day over a six-month period.
Participants in the placebo group receive light therapy, but not at 40Hz. During the trial, nighttime activities of the patients were monitored and their functional abilities were measured. The study demonstrated that patients tolerated daily therapy throughout the six-month treatment period. Patients receiving gamma sensory stimulation showed significantly reduced nighttime activity and improved sleep. Those in the placebo group experienced deterioration in sleep quality and brain function.
Patients in the gamma sensory stimulation group maintained brain function.
MIT believes that 40 Hz Gamma, delivered via the visual and auditory channels, can help treat Alzheimer’s disease by energizing neurons and reactivating the immune system. The FDA said that it has seen enough early clinical data to label the treatment as a potential breakthrough therapy.
Previous research on light therapy for Alzheimer’s disease appeared in the journal Nature in 2017 https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02391-6 and in 2016 https://www.nature.com/articles/nature20587
Researchers from MIT found that shining a strobe light into the eyes of mice with a rodent version of Alzheimer’s disease encouraged protective cells to phagocytize the harmful proteins that accumulate in the brain. The perfect rate of flashes was determined to be 40 per second. Exposure to the flashing light for an hour (light therapy) led to a noticeable reduction in beta amyloid levels the next day in regions of the neocortex and hippocampus. Daily treatments for a week reduced beta amyloid levels in the brain substantially.
Those who are interested in the multi-sensory treatment can obtain systems for home use.