Thursday, April 18, 2024

Exciting Study: Gamma Rhythm Stimulation Bring Memory Back

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A new study led by MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory researchers brings light on the promising potential of gamma rhythm stimulation for treating neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. This emerging field, started by a groundbreaking MIT study published in 2016, has given encouraging results in animal and human studies, paving the way for larger-scale clinical trials and potentially new hope for millions suffering from draining and paralyzing neurological conditions.

Brainwaves with a Purpose

Brain rhythms, often characterized as “waves” or “oscillations,” reflect the synchronized activity of brain cells working in collaboration to facilitate vital functions like perception and cognition. Lower-range gamma rhythms, oscillating at around 40 cycles per second, play an essential role in memory processes. MIT’s research revealed that enhancing the power and synchronization of this gamma rhythm stimulation through various non-invasive methods could potentially fight against Alzheimer’s pathology and improve cognitive function.

Precautionary Steps

While the study highlights the growing evidence supporting the therapeutic potential of gamma rhythm stimulation, it also emphasizes the need for further research. The authors, led by MIT postdoc Cristina Blanco-Duque, acknowledge that the existing clinical studies, though diverse and promising, are still in their early stages.

A Spectrum of Stimuli and Range of Results

The study varied in sample size, design, duration, and assessed outcomes, leading to a diverse results landscape. It summarizes findings from 16 clinical studies employing various approaches of gamma rhythm stimulation, including:

  • Sensory stimulation: Exposing participants to light, sound, tactile vibrations, or combinations, targeting specific gamma frequencies.
  • Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS): Delivering electrical currents to specific brain regions via scalp electrodes.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Inducing electrical currents in brain regions using magnetic fields.

The Hope of Sensory Gamma Rhythm Stimulation

Sensory stimulation study, while demonstrating safety and tolerability, offers encouraging findings. Several reported increases in gamma power, brain network connectivity, and memory, cognition, and sleep improvements. Some even showed potential physiological benefits like reduced brain weakening and altered immune system activity. However, no studies show reductions in Alzheimer’s hallmark proteins, amyloid and tau.

tACS and TMS: Targeting the Brain Directly

Clinical studies using tACS and TMS to stimulate 40Hz rhythms, though smaller in number, also noted positive results. Many reported improved cognition, memory, and executive function, with some benefits persisting after treatment. Interestingly, some studies observed effects on tau and amyloid levels, blood flow, neuromodulatory chemicals, and immune activity. A TMS study involving 37 patients demonstrated improvements in cognition, prevention of brain fading, and increased brain connectivity.

What are the Mechanisms For Gamma Rhythm Stimulation

While human studies provide promising clinical data, research in mice offers a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms. These studies have shown that gamma rhythm stimulation can reduce amyloid and tau, preserve brain tissue, and improve memory. Additionally, they suggest potential impacts on microglia immune cells, astrocytes, and the brain’s vascular system, hinting at a potential pathway for clearing amyloid and tau through enhanced circulatory activity.

Glimmering Hope or Distant Dream?

While acknowledging the need for more extensive, definitive clinical trials, the authors point to the 15 ongoing clinical studies, including a Phase 3 trial by Cognito Therapeutics using MIT’s technology, as promising signs of progress. Moreover, research is expanding beyond Alzheimer’s, exploring the potential of gamma rhythm stimulation for other neurological disorders like stroke, Down syndrome, and even cognitive side effects of chemotherapy.

The study paints a cautiously optimistic picture of gamma rhythm stimulation as a potential weapon against neurological disorders. While acknowledging the need for further research, the growing body of evidence from both animal and human studies offers a ray of hope for millions struggling with draining brain diseases. As more significant, more conclusive clinical trials unfold, the future of gamma stimulation appears bright, potentially illuminating new pathways for treating some of the most challenging neurological conditions.

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