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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Florida: Works with University of Arizona to Explore Using Near-infrared Light to Improve Brain Function of Older Adults

A team of scientists at the University of Florida and the University of Arizona will investigate whether exposing older adults at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease to near-infrared light may improve their cognition, mood and brain function.

The Revitalize Study is supported by a $3.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, $2 million of which will go to UF. It will be the largest trial of its kind to examine the effects of applying near-infrared light noninvasively to the scalp through a cap placed on a participant’s head.

If effective, near-infrared light could offer a safe, easily accessible intervention for Alzheimer’s, said Dr. Adam Woods, an associate professor of clinical and health psychology in the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and one of the study’s principal investigators.

“There is a long history of basic science research demonstrating that near-infrared light applied to neurons and other cells can increase mitochondrial function, or the energy metabolism of the cells,” Dr. Woods said. “Many different brain-based disorders have a major component of brain metabolism or brain energy being altered. Being able to improve brain energy could have wide-spanning impact on a number of behavioral and brain functions.”

Near-infrared light technology is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, such as muscle pain and arthritis, and is considered safe.

“The intervention is relatively low cost and low risk and if it is effective, then there is a possibility that it could be adapted for home use by individuals in the future,” said Dr. Dawn Bowers, a UF professor of clinical and health psychology and another of the study’s principal investigators.

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