Best Life: Flickering lights to treat alzheimer’s?

Updated: Apr. 14, 2020 at 7:01 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - By the year 2050, more than 14 million Americans are expected to have Alzheimer’s. Now researchers said a treatment involving lights and sound is showing great promise against the disease.

Seventy-seven-year-old Virginia Sams loves traveling and is rarely at a loss for words.

“I love having conversations with people,” Sams told Ivanhoe.

But three years ago - “I would forget so many words in one sentence that I could not have a conversation,” detailed Sams.

She went to the doctor and did some tests.

“And discovered that I had a real problem with this part of my brain that’s for words,” said Sams.

It was early-stage dementia. Now researchers are looking to see if they can rewire the brains of Alzheimer’s patients with flickering lights and sound. Previous studies have shown the treatment to be effective in mice.

“Based on mouse studies, we do see things like we can reduce plaques in animals,” said Annabelle Singer, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech.

Toxic plaques that are the cornerstone of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Emory and Georgia Tech are looking to see if the effects can be mimicked in human trials with the flicker device.

“They have to sit with this flashing light and repetitive sound stimulation for an hour each day for either four weeks or eight weeks,” detailed James Lah, MD, PhD, an associate professor of neurology at Emory University.

At 40 hertz the brain releases a surge of signaling chemicals that may help fight Alzheimer’s. Sams is taking part in the four to eight-week trial for the flicker device and said that the idea of this is encouraging.

“Maybe that would help, so why not try that,” said Sams.

The researchers said this stimulation may also be useful for other neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s or schizophrenia. They also advise against people improvising light therapies on their own or buying from companies claiming to have the same frequencies, because getting frequencies wrong could possibly do damage.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer, Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.