Infrared light therapy could potentially be used to help people living with dementia, scientists have said.
A pilot study used a helmet to beam the light into healthy volunteers' brains and found improvements in their memory, motor function and processing skills.
The research team, led by Dr. Paul Chazot of Durham University and Dr. Gordon Dougal, say transcranial photobiomodulation therapy (PBM-T) could benefit people with dementia, according to Sky News.
In the study, published in the journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine And Laser Surgery, 14 healthy people aged 45 and over received six minutes of PBM-T at a wavelength of 2068 nanometres twice a day for a month.
Tests on both groups revealed a significant improvement in performance in motor function, memory and brain processing speed in those who used the real helmet compared to those who were given the dummy helmet.
Dr. Chazot, who has spent 20 years studying particular infrared wavelengths for dementia treatment, said: "While this is a pilot study and more research is needed, there are promising indications that therapy involving infrared light might also be beneficial for people living with dementia and this is worth exploring."
"Indeed, we and our US research collaborators recently also published a new independent clinical study which provides the first evidence for profound and rapid improvement in memory performance in dementia. Particular wavelengths of infrared light are known to help alleviate nerve cell damage," he added.
Dougal devised the £7,250 PBM-T helmet. It delivers infrared light deep into the brain from 14 fan-cooled LED light arrays. He said the helmet "may well help dying brain cells regenerate into functioning units once again".