Mnemosline: eyewear for remembering
A device that stimulates alpha brain waves to improve memory
Eyeglasses that stimulate alpha brain waves and improve memory. No, it's not an accessory for superheroes but the outcome of 10 years' research by Francesco Ferro Milone of Vicenza, the former head of neurology who is now 85 and has created a device called Mnemosline. Instead of lenses, the glasses have two red LEDs with light impulses that increase alpha wave activity to help memory recovery. Ferro Milone created them together with colleague Adolfo Porro, former head of geriatrics. «Ever since we retired», he said, «we have been volunteers at senior citizen centers and have tried to slow down the mental aging process».
The idea of using intermittent light to stimulate operative memory is an issue on which Oxford University is also working. «But», Milone pointed out, «they are concentrating on the immediate effects whereas we are looking at the long term. We both use light impulses with a frequency of about 10 Hertz, which corresponds to the alpha waves of an average person. In the elderly, this frequency gradually slows down. Mnemosline transmits light signals at increasingly higher frequencies up to 13 Hertz, so over time it is able to "pull" the alpha waves back to better levels. We tested it on 200 elderly volunteers. After 5 years, 60 percent had more operative memory and psychological tests showed that they were less depressed, the alpha waves were also wider and more regular. 40 percent remained stable. The 200 volunteers in the control group became worse». The reporter wanted to try them: she saw through the eyelids a cloud of red flashes that pulsated with increasing frequency and made her feel relaxed and lucid.
The glasses will be available in Italy at Local Health Authority (ASL) memory centers (currently, there are only two in the province of Vicenza, but others are scheduled to open). Before they are applied, an electroencephalogram is performed to calibrate the glasses to the patient's alpha wave width. As a daily exercise program, the treatment lasts 10 minutes, twice a day for at least six months.