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Red Light Therapy for Memory & Learning

“Near infrared light can penetrate quite deep into the body. So if you shine it on your head, it will penetrate your skull and a lot of it is absorbed by your brain. Once you understand this, it’s amazing to think of the various diseases of the brain that need regeneration and healing, which could potentially be treated with light therapy.”

- Dr. Michael Hamblin, PhD., Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School

Red light therapy has been well established through hundreds of peer-reviewed trials as a safe, effective, and natural treatment for skin & anti-aging, joint pain & inflammation, and muscle health. Now, after a series of encouraging human trials, researchers are optimistic about light therapy’s potential to improve brain cell function and cognitive performance like memory, retention, reaction time, executive function, and learning.

In addition, emerging research has shown red light therapy’s potential as a non-invasive, natural treatment for traumatic brain injuries, as well as a new avenue for fighting cognitive decline caused by age, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.

If you’re not familiar with light therapy, the following article summarizes research on cognitive function and gives an overview of how red light therapy treatments can improve brain function and performance.

How Does Light Therapy Improve Brain Health and Cognitive Function?

When applied directly to the head, light therapy uses red and near infrared wavelengths to stimulate, preserve, and regenerate brain cells and tissues. A high-quality light therapy device can send photons of light through the skull, stimulating the mitochondria of brain cells to produce more metabolic energy.

Beneficial effects on the human brain are achieved by increased cerebral blood flow,

increasing oxygen availability & consumption, and boosting ATP energy production through enhanced mitochondrial activity.

More specifically, these specific red and near infrared wavelengths of light increase cytochrome c oxidase activity, activate cell signaling pathways, up-regulate transcription factors, and increase the expression of protective genes. [2]

Light therapy has also been shown to increase resting-state EEG alpha, beta, and gamma power in the brain, and to promote a more efficient prefrontal blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD)-fMRI response. [3]

That’s some pretty dense stuff, so let’s take a look at the real-world results from the human trials on light therapy and cognitive performance.

First Human Trials Show Major Cognitive Improvements for Memory, Attention, & Reaction Time