Alzheimer’s is one of the most devastating diseases we face today, yet scientists are still grappling to understand it, and as a result, it’s the subject of much scrutiny, debate, and cutting-edge research. One of the latest innovations to come out of this research is known as flashing light therapy. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been studying this treatment for a few years, and the latest developments show a great deal of promise.
As a senior living community providing memory care services, Yorkshire Village keeps up-to-date with the latest in Alzheimer’s research and treatments. In this article, we explore what flashing light therapy is, how it works, and how it could improve our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Flashing Light Therapy?
In a 2016 study, scientists exposed mice to barely-visible flickers of light at 40 flashes per second. These mice were genetically engineered to have brains with damage similar to that caused by Alzheimer’s disease. After an hour of this treatment, the mice had significantly reduced beta amyloid proteins in their brains, specifically in the hippocampus, which controls memory. After one week of daily therapy, there was even more of an improvement.
Beta amyloid proteins are the main suspect in the development of Alzheimer’s disease; a sticky buildup in the brain (called “plaques”) that eventually begin to interfere with functioning. Researchers believe these plaques are the primary cause behind the disease, so a treatment that reduces them could become the basis for a potential cure. A second study combined the flashing lights with sound to produce even more dramatic effects.
Exploring the Latest Developments in Flashing Light Therapy
The latest study out of MIT found that flashing light therapy causes changes at the cellular level to neurons as well as immune cells called microglia. The researchers also discovered that this therapy reduces inflammation along with plaques. Additionally, flashing light therapy boosted brain function in the mice, and even protected their brain cells from neurodegeneration.
It’s speculated that this therapy works by stimulating powerful brain waves, called gamma oscillations. These gamma oscillations prevent the brain from creating plaques, while enhancing the brain cells that destroy beta amyloid.
Of course, it’s too soon to know whether or not flashing light therapy can help in the fight against Alzheimer’s; not everything that works on mice will also work on humans. Plus, scientists aren’t even sure that beta amyloid plaques are indeed responsible for the illness. Still, each new development brings us one step closer to understanding this devastating disease – and could bring us closer to the possibility of a cure.
Yorkshire Village is a beautiful and affordable senior living community in the Southern California area. To learn more about our person-centered approach to memory care, or to schedule a tour, please click here to contact us today .