Safety, Feasibility, and Potential Clinical Efficacy of 40 Hz Invisible Spectral Flicker versus Placebo in Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer's Disease: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded, Pilot Study

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  • Mikkel Pejstrup Agger
  • Else Rubæk Danielsen
  • Marcus Schultz Carstensen
  • N. Mai Nguyen
  • Maibritt Horning
  • Mark Alexander Henney
  • Christopher Boe Ravn Jensen
  • Anders Ohlhues Baandrup
  • Troels Wesenberg Kjær
  • Kristoffer Hougaard Madsen
  • Miskowiak, Kamilla
  • Paul Michael Petersen
  • Høgh, Peter

Background: Recent studies suggested induction of 40 Hz neural activity as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, prolonged exposure to flickering light raises adherence and safety concerns, encouraging investigation of tolerable light stimulation protocols. Objective: To investigate the safety, feasibility, and exploratory measures of efficacy. Methods: This two-stage randomized placebo-controlled double-blinded clinical trial, recruited first cognitive healthy participants (n = 3/2 active/placebo), and subsequently patients with mild-to-moderate AD (n = 5/6, active/placebo). Participants were randomized 1:1 to receive either active intervention with 40 Hz Invisible Spectral Flicker (ISF) or placebo intervention with color and intensity matched non-flickering white light. Results: Few and mild adverse events were observed. Adherence was above 86.1% of intended treatment days, with participants remaining in front of the device for >51.3 min (60 max) and directed gaze >34.9 min. Secondary outcomes of cognition indicate a tendency towards improvement in the active group compared to placebo (mean: -2.6/1.5, SD: 6.58/6.53, active/placebo) at week 6. Changes in hippocampal and ventricular volume also showed no tendency of improvement in the active group at week 6 compared to placebo. At week 12, a potential delayed effect of the intervention was seen on the volume of the hippocampus in the active group compared to placebo (mean: 0.34/-2.03, SD: 3.26/1.18, active/placebo), and the ventricular volume active group (mean: -0.36/2.50, SD: 1.89/2.05, active/placebo), compared to placebo. Conclusion: Treatment with 40 Hz ISF offers no significant safety or adherence concerns. Potential impact on secondary outcomes must be tested in larger scale clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)653-665
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 - IOS Press. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • 40 Hz, Alzheimer's disease, gamma entrainment, invisible spectral flicker, light-based neurostimulation

ID: 369082805