Transcranial Near Infrared Photobiomodulation and Cognitive Aging

Transcranial near-infrared (NIR) photobiomodulation is a method of non-invasive brain stimulation that uses light in the near-infrared spectrum to the scalp to stimulate underlying brain tissue. This method applies small light emitting diodes on the scalp configured into a stimulating array and through the passage of infrared light through intervening tissue, mechanistic data demonstrates that NIR stimulation results in up regulation of mitochondrial function in the stimulated brain tissue. Mitochondrial function is a central component of the brain’s energy metabolism. Dysfunction in mitochondrial function is not only associated with the cognitive aging process, but also a wide range of neurological diseases. Delivery of NIR stimulation in older adults may provide a method for remediating age-related cognitive deficits associated with declining mitochondrial function. In addition, multimodal neuroimaging and spectroscopy methods provide a critical window into mechanistic and treatment response characteristics. This study uses phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy to investigate in vivo markers of mitochondrial function by assaying alpha-, beta-, and gamma-ATP concentrations in frontal and temporal lobe regions. In addition, functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging provide additional markers of change in brain health and function important for cognition. Combined with neuropsychological assessment of participants pre and post intervention, this sham controlled pilot trial will shed light on a novel and easily applied technique that may hold promise for the fight against cognitive aging and dementia. This McKnight Brain Research Foundation funded pilot study (Bowers, Woods, Alexander; MPIs) involves multisite collaborations at the University of Florida (Bowers and Woods) and University of Arizona (Alexander) and is enrolling a cohort of healthy older adults to assess the impact of NIR stimulation on cognitive aging and brain health.

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Funding Source:

McKnight Brain Research Foundation