Gamma Waves in Brain

A very recent study by MIT scientist Li-Huei Tsai’s group shows that Gamma could be the alleviate Alzheimer’s disease.  I learned about this first through the Science podcast and again the Radiolab podcast, and was amazed by their results, and it got me thinking about solving problem outside of the box like what they did.

To summarize their experiment, instead of looking at the problem in conventional ways such as genetics, they took the gamma waves approach, and sent gamma frequency pulses to mice brain. What they observed is that the pulses was able to clean away clogging proteins that cause Alzheimer’s. Even more interestingly, they put mice in a room with LED lights flickering at the same frequency, and it did the same job.

Although they said that they did not know why it worked, it is obvious that the waves are able to activate the clogging proteins. This seems like the beginning of a very promising treatment for the disease in my opinion. And I am very much intrigued by this creative problem solving. It makes sense in retrospect, proteins need some activation energy to unclog, and with some research and experimentation, they found out the right frequency of the energy to target. It is very clever to put physics to use in biology, and I believe more research should be done this way, solving problems multidisciplinarily. and this will require research collaborations and scientists with a diverse background.

With a training in physics, I used to only be exposed to waves in physics. However, the more I study about other sciences, they are truly everywhere. When I audited a seismology class when I was at Berkeley, I learned that buildings with certain heights can resonate with seismological waves. And now, gamma waves LED light flickering can activate clogged proteins in the brain, is just so fascinating. But at the same time it should not be so surprising since wave is a form of energy, and everything in this world is some representation of energy, therefore everything is just waves in disguise. Waves are as fundamental as atoms, although it may not often be seem this way. I look forward to learning more about it in grad school.


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