Picture: IOL This could be of huge benefit in dealing with the growing problems of dementia and Alzheimer’s
Listening to someone repeatedly hitting a low note on the piano may seem rather irritating to most people.

But, bizarrely, for those with Alzheimer’s disease, hearing such a deep monotonous noise might actually help them beat the disease.

Scientists have found that listening to a sound similar to the lowest E note on a piano keyboard can boost brainwaves in areas close to the brain’s memory centre.

The sound been found to drastically reduce the level of plaques which form in the brain to cause Alzheimer’s. The research follows findings that flashing lights in the eyes of Alzheimer’s sufferers also appears to fight the disease. Both studies, by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have so far only been done on mice.

However trials have now begun to test the effects of sound, light and vibration in people with the disease. The auditory cortex, which picks up the blasts of sound, is particularly close to the memory centre - the hippocampus. Researchers exposed mice to a 40-hertz noise before examining their brains under a microscope.

The results showed a dramatic reduction in both amyloid plaques and tau tangles - the two types of protein which harm the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Because playing sounds is safer than testing drugs, it is a lot easier to begin trials to see whether this will work on humans.

New Scientist magazine reported that low sounds were being tested with flickering lights and vibrating pads placed on the hands of 12 people with moderate or mild Alzheimer’s in Boston.

The latest research was presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington DC in the US. David Reynolds, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Future research will need to explore changes in the brains of people to explore treatment new approaches.” - Daily Mail