Short-Term Effects of Rhythmic Sensory Stimulation in Alzheimer's Disease: An Exploratory Pilot Study

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Mar 25;52(2):651-60. doi: 10.3233/JAD-160081.


This study assessed the effect of stimulating the somatosensory system of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients at three stages of their illness with 40 Hz sound. In this AB cross-over study design, 18 participants (6 mild, 6 moderate, 6 severe) each participated in 13 sessions: one intake and 12 treatment. Treatment A consisted of 40 Hz sound stimulation and Treatment B consisted of visual stimulation using DVDs, each provided twice a week over 6 weeks for a total of 6 times per treatment. Outcome measures included: St. Louis University Mental Status Test (SLUMS), Observed Emotion Rating Scale, and behavioral observation by the researcher. Data were submitted to regression analysis for the series of 6 SLUMS scores in treatment A and 6 scores in B with comparison by group. The slopes for the full sample and subgroups in the 40 Hz treatment were all significant beyond alpha = 0.05, while those for the DVD were not. A thematic analysis of qualitative observations supported the statistical findings. 40 Hz treatment appeared to have the strongest impact on persons with mild and moderate AD. Results are promising in terms of a potential new treatment for persons with AD, and further research is needed.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; auditory stimulation; cognition; vibration.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pilot Projects