GammaGen – Citizen Science

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia in humans. There are over 520,000 people in the UK alone who suffer. There is currently no cure.

Dementia research in the UK is desperately underfunded. For every person living with dementia, the annual cost to the UK economy is over £30,000 and yet only £90 is spent on dementia research each year.

There are not enough researchers and clinicians joining the fight against dementia. Five times fewer researchers choose to work on dementia than on cancer.

Part of what makes this disease so hard to treat is that we don’t fully understand what causes it. We know lots of factors can make a person more likely to suffer from it and we know some ‘hacks’ to stave off cognitive decline (paywall) but the root cause remains a mystery. We know that amyloid plaques build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s but we don’t understand the causal link – if indeed there is one. Which is where our project and some interesting research from the US comes in.

GammaGen is a citizen science project based on research into the potential benefits of induced gamma brain waves.  Gamma brain waves are naturally occurring signals in the brain that oscillate at 40Hz.  You can read about the research here.  You’ll see from the linked article in Nature that the treatment gave good results in mice with conditions similar to Alzheimer’s Disease and that the researchers were moving on to try the treatment on humans. Here at The Wisdom Factory CIC we feel that what this area of research needs is more data.  People who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease may like the opportunity to help push forward the boundaries of research, with the possibility that in doing so they may be helping themselves.  

GammaGen aims to meet both these objectives by providing an opportunity for people to use light and/or sound via a mobile app to induce localised gamma brain waves and keep a record of their sessions.  Optionally, people can choose to share their session data with people researching treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease.  You can see more about this project at GammaGen.org.

Please note that using the app is not a clinical treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease and that no promise of a cure or improvement is implied in purchasing, downloading or using the app.  You should not use the app if you suffer with any kind of photo-sensitive seizures such as epilepsy.

If you or someone you know needs to know more about this dreadful illness, you can contact The Alzheimer’s Society.

You can now download the app from App Store and Google Play. You will need a phone-based VR headset (e.g. Google Cardboard) and headphones to use it.

Author: Mike Mounfield

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