Infrared Light May Improve Cognition of Persons with Dementia, Study Finds


People diagnosed with dementia may be able to improve their cognitive functioning with infrared light, a recent study published in the journal Aging and Disease said.

According to an article published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, 57 persons diagnosed with with mild or moderate dementia wore a helmet that emitted near-infrared light twice a day for six minutes.

After the treatment, participants answered questions from the mini-mental state exam (MMSE). Their scores improved by 4.8 points, while a control group’s scores rose by 1.4 points. Participants who wore the infrared helmet also showed improvement on a logical memory test and auditory learning tests. Researchers reported that performance decreased when the treatments stopped.

Marvin Berman, PhD, a member of the research team, said in the Inquirer article that infrared light is believed to stimulate the production of an energy-carrying molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Dementia and other neurological conditions impede ATP production.

Jason Huang, the study’s principal investigator, found the early-stage research to be “quite encouraging” and is seeking funding for future work. He plans to add data from another 40 participants and will then reanalyze the results.

Researchers also said in the article that the study needs to be followed up with a larger, multi-site trial that can more clearly analyze and categorize different types of dementias, and how each is affected by infrared light.

Read the full Philadelphia Inquirer article here.

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