A breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease?
Can regular treatment of sound and light signals alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer's disease? Researchers in the United States have found that daily stimulation of sensation by light pulses and sounds contributes to memory improvements and a significant reduction in the so-called amyloid plaque.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say that daily stimulation of light and sound sensations can relieve Alzheimer's disease symptoms and reduce memory loss. Doctors have published their findings in the English journal "Cell".
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases in the world. In Germany, about 1.3 million people suffer from this disease. Alzheimer's disease destroys our brain cells, which are associated with ever-increasing memory loss. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for the disease and doctors can slow down their careers. There are currently three studies and clinical trials on three drugs for Alzheimer's disease.
Studies that found a positive effect of 40 hertz flashes
A few years ago, MIT experts pointed out that stimulation of the senses with special light stimuli of Alzheimer's disease mice can reduce the symptoms of the disease. Exposure of rats to 40-Hz flashes is associated with a decrease in the visual center of existing amyloid plaques. Alzheimer's disease not only affects the visual center, but also affects other parts of the brain, such as the brain center, which is crucial to learning, memory and other high-thinking functions (eg, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, mPFC). Experts say that it is important that stimulation also affects this part of the brain.
Effect of acoustic stimulation
Scientists first tested the effects of acoustic stimulation on mice. In the early stages, animals suffering from Alzheimer's disease were exposed to a short tone of 40 hours per day for 1 hour. This has brought about a noticeable change in a week. Memory function was clearly improved, and brain stimulation also had a positive effect on the brain. This has been demonstrated by the fact that mice treated with sensory stimuli can better remember the position of the pooled platform compared to untreated mice. In addition, the processing mouse will better recognize previously viewed objects.
Very clear changes have also been observed in the mouse brain. One week of hue stimulation reduced the amount of plaque and beta-amyloid in the hearing centers and hippocampus by 40-50%. This suggests that acoustic stimulation may reduce amyloid burden even outside the primary sensory cortex. Another positive effect is a 60% increase in specific immune cells (pediatric glias) through sound stimulation. Microglia can destroy amyloid plaques. Expanding the vein by 50-100 percent can improve blood circulation in the hippocampus and hearing centers of experimental animals.
Impressive success with combined therapy
The result was even more impressive when tone stimuli were combined with already studied glare. Li-Huei Tsai, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, "Combining visual and auditory stimulation in a week has a positive effect on the prefrontal cortex and a dramatic decrease in amyloid". The combined stimulation of these senses can be a promising approach for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease in the future. These forms of sensory stimulation affect other cell types in the brain and other brain regions. "We have shown here that we can induce gamma oscillations in the brain using a completely different sensory pattern, which can reduce amyloid and tau pathology in the hippocampus as well as the sensory cortex.
What causes stimulation in the brain?
Stimulation promotes the generation of certain EEGs, perhaps gamma oscillations. This wave seems to cause a positive effect. Unfortunately, the effect of stimulation does not last long. When treatment is stopped every day, the amount of plaque begins to increase again. It is therefore important that regular, permanent pacing therapies be performed.
Further investigation is needed.
More research now has to find out whether the combination of light and sound is effective for humans. There has already been an attempt to stimulate human healthy volunteers to confirm the general tolerability of treatment. The next step is a test for current Alzheimer's patients. Volunteers are already looking for participation. (AS)