Plaque is the layman’s term for clumps of harmful proteins found in the brains of Alzheimer’s victims. This plaque interferes with the brain’s ability to function properly and is greatly responsible for the decreased cognitive function and memory seen in sufferers.
Published in the journal , scientists have been able to partially clear the harmful protein from the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s using nothing but light and sound.
Science Alert reports:
Research led by MIT has found strobe lights and a low pitched buzz can be used to recreate brain waves lost in the disease, which in turn remove plaque and improve cognitive function in mice engineered to display It’s a little like using light and sound to trigger their own brain waves to help fight the disease. This technique hasn’t been clinically trialled in humans as yet, so it’s too soon to get excited – brain waves are known to work differently in humans and mice. Alzheimer’s-like behavior.
A previous study used fast flashes of light in the eyes to treat Alzheimer’s in mice. This new study added sound with a similar frequency and it dramatically improved the outcome.
‘When we combine visual and auditory stimulation for a week, we see the engagement of the prefrontal cortex and a very dramatic reduction of amyloid,’ says Li-Huei Tsai, one of the researchers from MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
‘The result was so mind-boggling and so robust, it took a while for the idea to sink in, but we knew we needed to work out a way of trying out the same thing in humans,’ Tsai told Helen Thomson at Nature at the time.
The innovation is exciting because mice exposed to the treatment overall performed better in a range of cognitive tasks. Scientists believe this treatment could help the brain recover from the grip of Alzheimer’s disease.
The therapy cleared plaques in a number of areas across the brain, including the prefrontal cortex.
Although the light and sound treatment missed certain areas of the brain that contribute to memory, it did however clear the hippocampus which is an important section associated with memory.
Applying the therapy to human brains is the next step and will take more work considering potential contrasts in how waves appear in mice and human Alzheimer’s brains.
On the bright side, preliminary testing for safety shows that the treatment has no side effects unlike common Alzheimer’s prescription medication.