Alzheimer's disease could be treated by combining light and sound therapy, according to new research.
The study showed that the non-invasive treatments boosted memory by destroying rogue proteins in the brains of mice.
The molecules, known as beta amyloid, gather into plaques devouring neurons - triggering devastating symptoms of confusion.
Scientists are hopeful the approach, which works by inducing brain waves known as gamma oscillations, will be just as effective in humans.
Mice with Alzheimer's remained stable, with no progression of symptoms for a time, after light and sound therapy to stimulate their brains. Human trials are under way
Patients with early-stage Alzheimer's are already being enrolled for the first clinical trial of its kind.
Experiments found it boosted the abilities of lab animals genetically engineered to develop mental problems similar to those seen in people with dementia.
Both the visual and auditory therapies led to improvements when applied individually - but results were even better when given together.
The findings, published in the journal Cell, could revolutionise the treatment of dementia.
Senior author Dr Li-Huei Tsai, of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: 'When we combine visual and auditory stimulation for a week, we see the engagement of the prefrontal cortex and a very dramatic reduction of amyloid.'
It lies at the front of the brain and controls executive function - a set of mental skills that helps us get things done. In Alzheimer's, it is among the first things to go.
Plaques were cleared in large swaths of grey matter, including areas vital for learning and memory.
Her team has performed preliminary tests of this type of stimulation in healthy human subjects and showed they are safe.
The next step is the clinical trial to see if the technique produces similar benefits for patients.
Dr Tsai said she is now beginning to recruit Alzheimer's patients for the dual visual and auditory treatment.
Alzheimer's causes brain waves to become disrupted, but exposing mice to both light and sound treatments encouraged the neurons to begin firing normally again.
The cells generate electrical signals in several different frequency ranges. Previous studies have suggested Alzheimer's patients have impairments of their gamma-frequency oscillations.
These can be from 25 to 80 hertz, or cycles per second, and are believed to contribute to mental functions such as