The GammaGen mobile app is designed to be the centrepiece of a ‘citizen science’ project called GammaGen.  The project makes use of recent research into the application of induced brain waves at a frequency of 40 Hz (‘gamma waves’) to affect the accumulation and distribution of amyloid plaques in mammalian brains (mice in the research).  The build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.  The aim of this project is to enable people with the disease, or with genetic factors that make them high risk of acquiring the disease, to engage in a benign potential therapy while at the same time helping to accumulate data in the effectiveness of the treatment.

Even more recently New Scientist (2 February 2019) reported that a landmark study had concluded that bacteria involved in gum disease could be part of the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease in humans.  This offers exciting new possibilities for research and even the development of preventative and therapeutic interventions.  It also offers an intriguing potential link between the studies that led us to develop this app and  this new work.  Microglial cells, the non-neuronal cells in the brain that seem to have increased in the mouse studies using gamma wave stimuli, ‘act as the first and main form of active immune defense in the central nervous system’.  So the stimulation of microglial activity might affect Alzheimer’s Disease via attacking the bacteria that seem to be part of the cause – and any effect on amyloid plaques is of secondary importance.  We just don’t know; more research is needed and our app can play a small part in that.

The app produces light flashing at 40Hz on the screen, at the same time producing a 40Hz tone from the device’s audio circuits.  The app is intended to be used with a simple VR headset (Google Cardboard or similar) and a pair of ordinary headphones.

The nature of the intervention is benign, involving only visible spectrum light and audible sound.  However some safety features have been built into the app:

  1. The app permits a maximum session duration of 60 minutes.
  2. The app does not permit a further session for 18 hours.

You can find more about GammaGen here.


Author: Mike Mounfield