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July 2, 2019

For Alzheimer Pathology, Light and Sound Stimulation May Hold Promise

JAMA. 2019;322(1):17-18. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.8295

A combination of visual and auditory stimulation reduced brain amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) and improved memory in mouse models of Alzheimer disease (AD), according to recent preclinical research.

Although the most well-known neuropathological markers of AD are aggregates of Aβ peptides and tau proteins, aberrant neural activity—such as disrupted gamma oscillations (30-90 Hz) associated with working memory, spatial navigation, sensory processing, and attention—is also a common feature. Previous research showed that exposure to light flickering at a gamma frequency of 40 Hz reduced Aβ and tau levels and activated debris-clearing immune cells, or microglia, in the visual cortex of animal models of AD. The researchers, led by Li-Huei Tsai, PhD, the director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and a founding member of MIT’s Aging Brain Initiative, call this intervention gamma entrainment using sensory stimuli (GENUS).