Flashing Lights and Sounds Improve Memory and Learning Skills in Mice – The New York Times


Like the Science Times page on Facebook.| Sign up for theScience Times newsletter.]

Of course, mice are not people. And many drugs that have helped Alzheimer’s-engineered mice haven’t done much for people with Alzheimer’s, which affects 44 million people worldwide, including 5.5 million Americans. Also, because the technique didn’t have long-lasting effects — results faded about a week after the sensory stimulation was stopped — any therapy developed from the research might have to be repeated regularly.

the study, published Thursday in the journal Cell, are “definitely something that I don’t think anybody could have predicted.”

Enhancing or regulating electrical brain activity through techniques like surgically implanted electrodes is used to treat some other conditions, like Parkinson’s and obsessive-compulsive disorder. And previous research has shown that the activity of gamma waves, the highest-frequency waves ranging from 25 to 140 hertz, decreases in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s.

Intrigued, Dr. Tsai began experimenting with light, and in 2016, she and colleagues showed, after trying different frequencies, that light flickering at 40 hertz, beamed at mice an hour daily for a week, decreased amyloid and tau and revved up microglia in the brain’s visual cortex.

Aiming to reach other brain areas, she tried sound, settling on clicks because “your brain seems to be able to perceive clicks more than a tone,” she said.


A version of this article appears in print on

, on Page



of the New York edition

with the headline:

Could Lights and Sounds Help People With Alzheimer’s? They Worked in Mice

. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


Leave a Reply