Can Light Therapy improve cognition? New research published in Aging & Disease Journal says that it can! A great article by Suvi Mahonen

Written by Suvi Mahonen and first published in Surfers Health.

"Dr Marvin Berman is the founder and director of the QuietMIND Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a neuropsychophysiologist, Dr Berman is passionate about developing and providing safe, non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatments for people experiencing memory, learning, behaviour and movement problems caused by a range of neurological disorders including traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Earlier this year Dr Berman, along with a team of researchers led by neurosurgeon Jason Huang, published a groundbreaking study in the journal Aging and Disease which showed that exposure to near-infrared light improves cognition, sleep and mood in patients with dementia.

In this randomised double-blinded controlled trial, 40 patients with mild to moderate dementia were given a helmet-like device that emitted 1070 nm wavelength of near-infrared light (invisible to the naked eye), and 20 patients with mild to moderate dementia were given a similar device that did not actually emit light. 

All participants then used the device for 6 minutes, twice a day, for 60 days. The study had a 95 per cent completion rate with no side effects noted.

Excitingly, at the end of 60 days, those on the active treatment arm showed significant improvements in a number of cognitive function tests including the Mini-Mental State Examination (a 15 per cent improvement), the Logical Memory test and the Auditory Verbal Learning Test. Many patients also reported improved sleep after one week of treatment and caregivers reported improvements in the patients’ mood, anxiety and energy levels after two to three weeks of treatment.   

“Light therapy is an intervention to actually stop the neuro inflammation and also to increase the amount of brain chemicals that are associated with healthy brain activity,” Dr Berman said. “This is a physiological intervention building upon the idea of removing pathogens and toxins that can interfere with normal physiological and brain function. That’s what the light can do. It can confer a certain amount of protection to the brain against further injury. So, it’s neuroprotective as well as reparative.”

Please follow link to full study published in Aging and Disease Journal on 3 July 2021, to learn more.