What’s Going On?
Scientists at MIT have made a significant breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research. They’ve found that vibrating something at a certain speed (40 Hz) can help mice with Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Essentially, they put the mice’s cages over speakers that were playing a 40 Hz sound. This caused the cages to vibrate at that frequency, stimulating the mice.
Alzheimer’s and Vibrations: An Unexpected Connection
Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects memory and other important mental functions. This happens due to protein build-ups and neuron loss in the brain. The MIT scientists have found a way to fight this.
In this new study, the researchers found that exposing Alzheimer’s model mice to vibrations of a specific frequency (40 Hz) for an hour a day made them healthier.
This was compared to mice that didn’t receive the vibration treatment. Not only did the vibrations seem to boost the brain’s health, but they also helped the mice move better.
But We’ve Heard of This Before, Right?
True, the idea of using gamma frequency stimulation isn’t entirely new. Previous studies have shown that this type of stimulation, through light and sound, can improve brain activity and motor function.
However, this MIT team is the first to show that it can also reduce levels of the harmful protein, called phosphorylated tau, seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
The treatment also helped keep neurons alive and maintain their connections, which is crucial for brain function.
Sensing the Future of Alzheimer’s Treatment
The idea here is that by using the sense of touch, scientists can improve brain power. Professor Li-Huei Tsai, the lead of the study, mentioned this is the third sensory way to increase gamma power in the brain.
The results suggest that this type of tactile stimulation could benefit human patients, particularly those with motor function impairment.
The Science Behind It
In 2016, the same lab showed that using light flickers or sound clicks at 40 Hz could reduce levels of harmful Alzheimer’s proteins.
This even prevented neuron death and preserved connections in the brain. They called this technology GENUS (Gamma Entrainment Using Sensory stimuli).
Now, they’ve added tactile stimulation to the mix. The team tested this on two types of mice models that show signs of Alzheimer’s-like brain degeneration.
The mice experienced 40 Hz vibrations for several weeks. The scientists then looked at different brain areas to see how they were affected.
What They Found
First, the team confirmed that 40 Hz vibrations increased brain activity in healthy mice.
They saw two times more activity in the part of the brain that processes touch and over three times more in the part that controls body movement.
After seeing these results, the scientists then looked at the Alzheimer’s mice models. Mice exposed to the vibrations for three weeks showed healthier brain cells and reduced levels of harmful proteins.
Another group of mice experienced the vibrations for six weeks. These mice showed better brain connections and less DNA damage.
Finally, when the scientists tested the mice’s ability to move, they found some promising results.
Mice that were exposed to the vibrations could balance on a rotating rod longer than those that weren’t. This suggests the vibration treatment could help improve motor function.
So, What Does This Mean?
The research suggests that using non-invasive sensory stimulation, like 40 Hz vibrations, could be a new way to treat Alzheimer’s.
Not only does it seem to improve brain health and reduce harmful proteins, but it could also help improve motor abilities.
But, it’s essential to remember that these are early results from tests in mice. The next step is to see if these results can be replicated in human trials.
The MIT team is hopeful, and so are we. This could be a huge step forward in finding an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.
The study was published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
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