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Flashing Light, Sound Restore Memory in Alzheimer's Mice (laboratoryequipment.com)
118 points by obeone 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

If you feel like bad science and poorly supported practices are up your alley, I build a Chrome extension to flash an overlay on your browser at specifiable frequencies: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gammaloid/lfmaoakh...

You may want to justify why it is "bad science" and write a letter to the editor of Nature and Nature Protocols. Is the media interpretation of these studies misguided? Sure, but the popular science media is not doing the science.

I would be peeved if people called my research "bad science" because some pop. sci. article doesn't understand it.

Nature is hardly the top of the crust these days with regards to academic oversight.

I can recall quite easily that a while back they published an article confirming ESP, and then refused to publish a replication of the same paper stating no results.

Because the first one sells issues and the second one doesn't.

Nature does love flashy stories but the ESP stuff wasn’t them, it was JPSP.

Here’s the citation: Bem, D. J. (2011). Feeling the future: Experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 407-425. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021524

Nature did publish a thing on “water memory” in the 1980s. To their (partial) credit, it was published with an editorial pointing out how unlikely the findings were.

Thank you for the correction! :)

Mice clap don’t clap get clap Alzheimer’s.

They have neural plaques, artificially, chemically induced, that are coincident with Alzheimer’s in humans.

I don't know why this is being downvoted as much as it is.

Wife works in a related field of neuro-sci, and regularly laments this difference, especially how it's played up in both in reporting and in assuming consistency in treatment and response. To the best of my knowledge there's not even consensus that plaques are the "root cause" we should be focusing on, so this sort of model may be multiple steps removed from applicability. (Similar problems exist even in 'more well understood' neurological systems, e.g. early vision pipeline)

It's an unfortunate but very real limitation to the current research that I think is important to understand so as to be realistic about the progress and directions of study. To be very precise, I say this as someone who, both of of scientific interest, and selfish interest (Alzheimers in my family) loves that this research is happening.

> plaques are the "root cause

The amyloid hypothesis has been pretty popular for ~25 years, and it's pretty clear that the plaques have something to do with Alzheimers, but it's been a absolute disaster as a treatment target. It feels very much like treating a fever by slathering the patient in antiperspirant.

Biogen announced this morning that they're giving up on Phase III trials of aducanumab, an antibody that was supposed to target and remove the plaques (their stock is doing...badly as a result). https://www.reuters.com/article/us-biogen-alzheimers/biogen-...

There were two other big failures last year here too, as this nice little Nature News piece describes: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05719-4

"Alzheimer’s-Associated Pathology Mouse Models" doesn't roll off the tongue as easily.

There was a RadioLab special on this a few years ago:


After hearing this intriguing RadioLab episode some months back, I started searching around youtube for 40 Hz tones and found quite a lot of videos of all kinds that use those and other tones allegedly related to various brain waves (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc).

I listened to a whole bunch of these videos, and while I wasn't measuring my memory, I did pay close attention to how the sounds made me feel, and this one particular made me feel strangest: [1]. Unfortunately, the sound fades in and out and the effect goes with it. I wish it could have had stayed at a steady volume so that the effect could be sustained. If you watch it, just ignore the cheesy graphics and listen.

Here are some other interesting ones: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

Video [3] is actually supposedly 40 Hz.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-eTVW8VMRQ

[2] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG22hV-gMsY

[3] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGHbKWGgH_E

[4] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhZPMTpW-gg

[5] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-yz8l4Do-U

[6] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lN3X5qVoqQ

[3] is definitely not 40hz. 40hz is in the sub-bass range, which this clearly isn't. I'm not at home in my studio right now, so I can't measure what it is, but if I was to guess it would be around 200hz.

The ones that are 20hz might make you feel a bit weird because there's not much amateur audio equipment that would do anything other than distort at that low end of the frequency range.

It does say binaural though, so maybe it's panning left/right at 40hz rather than playing a sound-wave at 40hz. If that's the case it's not the same as what the article states: "40 hertz tone".

Here's an online tone generator [1] that will play a sine-wave at 40hz.

[1] https://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/

A lot of the binaural stuff try to set up "beats" by playing a slightly different frequency to each ear. Neither frequency is 40Hz, but the beat frequency may be.

There's an absolute shedload of woo-woo stuff on the purported consciousness-enhancing benefits if you google around. That's not to say they definitely don't do funny things to your brain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_(acoustics)#Binaural_beat...

"That's not to say they definitely don't do funny things to your brain."


I actually just went in to Ardour and edited down that one "20 Hz" video I mentioned made me feel weird [1] so that it played the loudest part continuously instead of fading in and out, and then listened to it again and after 5 or 10 minutes of listening to it I felt really weird again, and started to get worried about what it might be doing to me, so I stopped.

It's really interesting, though, and I hope some serious research is conducted on this sort of sound's psychological effects.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-eTVW8VMRQ

> There's an absolute shedload of woo-woo stuff on the purported consciousness-enhancing benefits if you google around.

Oh god, yes, and it isn't even new. Back around 2005, I ran into a web site selling audio files which they claimed would cure addictions, attract romantic partners, improve luck...

And, twenty years before that, this group claimed that binaural "synchronization" of the hemispheres of the brain could lead to out-of-body travel.


I think they've backed down on some of those claims over the last 30 years, but they'll be happy to take your money for a 5 day onsite retreat.

The youtube video creator addresses this in the description and comments:

"the base frequency is 183.58 and the "binaural beat" frequency is 40hz - meaning the difference in the left ear and right ear is 40hz. The left ear plays 183.58 and the right ear plays 223.58hz the difference being 40hz. "

Ah, sorry, I missed that. Still, I maintain that's different to what's stated in the article of "40 hertz tone". Which to me means a 40hz sine wave.

Perhaps the binaural effect does have some benefits, but personally I was struggling to listen to that video for more than 30 seconds or so without feeling both mildly sick and annoyed at the same time! However, I've been listening to the 40 hertz tone from the link I posted above for a good 10 minutes now without any bother. It's quite relaxing after a while actually.

Szynalski.com has a page discussing the 40hz/plaque removal.

Another tone generator that I've used -- https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/isochronicBrainwaveGenerat...

I like binaural beats, some give me an ASMR like effect (ASMR videos made with binaural backgrounds b work well for me too).

That is pretty nice, but i note that they don't reach up to 40hz.

In the paper, "a 10 kHz tone was played at 40 Hz"

So its a high pitched sound played in 40 Hz bursts. Anyone have a generator for something like that? (though 10 kHz can be annoying)

Seems weird that the second value (40) is in Hz. It doesn't specify the duration of the burst, if it is in bursts. Is it once cycle of a 10 KHz tone 40 times a second, or more? Very odd.

or is that what binaural refers to?

That first video definitely is giving me a strange sensation too, it's like my ears and nose are vibrating in response to the "beats" of the audio.

>exposed laboratory mice that genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's disease to a light flickering at 40 hertz for one hour a day. They found that this treatment reduced the levels of tau and amyloid beta in visual cortex of the brain and stimulated the activity of debris-clearing immune cells.

does it mean that old CRT TVs and monitors kept our Alzheimer at bay?

I guess it depends how important the 40hz is. Because PAL was 50hz and NTSC was 60hz (if my addled memory is still working ok).

But it did occur to me that my years of going to raves, hearing (and feeling) sub-bass (in the 30-60hz range) could have a similar effect (especially when you throw in the strobe lights).

My old CRT monitor, an IBM 5154 clone, gave me a mild sunburn on the day I got it...

Are you sure that wasn't just from having to go outside to buy it?

weren't fluorescent lights 40Hz?

Older fluorescent lights (those run off a magnetic current limiter, or "ballast") flickered at 120Hz if they were connected to a 60Hz power source. Every time the voltage declined below a level needed to maintain a discharge, the lamp went out. That happened twice in every full sine wave of primary power.

Whether you could see the flicker depended on the phosphor luminous decay time. If the phosphors on the inside of the bulb (which glow when excited by the UV-rich plasma discharge) had a rapid luminous decay curve, you could perceive the 120Hz flicker if you scanned your eyes across a lit bulb. The afterimage on your retina was a dashed line, the dark parts being the "too little voltage" portions of the sine wave.

You can use the afterimage trick to check out duty cycle dimming of car tail and brake lights. If they're chopped slower than ~1KHz, the smeared retinal afterimage will be chopped. Don't do this if you're moving in traffic.

Yep! I do this in traffic when bored...not when moving tho, just sitting in stop and go traffic. Its interesting to see the different patterns, doesn't seem to be much consistency to the pulse width they have.

I’d expect them to be an integer multiple of mains frequency, so 50 or 60 Hz.

Flourescent lights need much higher frequency. They're typically >= 22 kHz.

People have already tried to reproduce results in humans, here is one such study:

I am unaware of any successful results.

I've heard people talk about binaural beats before, but always brushed it off as pseudoscience.

> The noninvasive treatment induces brain waves called gamma oscillations.

Is this true? Does anyone have a link that explains these brain wave patterns in layman's terms? What exactly is happening to my brain when listening to these sounds?

So, was The Lawnmower Man ahead of its time?

This effect has been on here before, some people have had incredible effects with this. I've relatives who've (had) Alzheimer's, it seems worth following a "cleaning cycle" every now and again even if results aren't proven as it seems there is no evidence of harmful effects either.

I didn't know if treatments targeting amyloid directly would improve memory, but this tests both in one study, which is pretty great--big effects on memory and amyloid plaques.

Also, I think Ruth Benca at UCI can measure amyloid levels in humans using high-resolution EEG.

Sonic the Hedgehog knows what's up.

I would love to try this at home, but would have no means of measuring whether it reduced the plaques..

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