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Using Ultrasound To Zap The Brain Back Into Action

Scientists at Arizona State University have developed a new method of non-surgical brain stimulation using pulsed ultrasound that enhances cognitive function in mice, and may one day be used to non-invasively treat patients with mental retardation, Alzheimer’s disease and other central nervous system (CNS) dysfunctions.

In intact motor cortex in mice, ultrasound was found to stimulate action potentials and elicit motor responses comparable to those only previously achieved with implanted electrodes and related techniques. It also activates meaningful brain wave patterns and the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus — one of the most potent regulators of brain plasticity.

From the article in Neuron:

Deeper in subcortical circuits, we used targeted transcranial ultrasound to stimulate neuronal activity and synchronous oscillations in the intact hippocampus. We found that ultrasound triggers TTX-sensitive neuronal activity in the absence of a rise in brain temperature (<0.01°C). Here, we also report that transcranial pulsed ultrasound for intact brain circuit stimulation has a lateral spatial resolution of approximately 2 mm and does not require exogenous factors or surgical invasion.


  • Transcranial pulsed ultrasound stimulates intact mouse brain circuits
  • Ultrasound can stimulate intact cortex and hippocampus without exogenous factors
  • Ultrasound consistently stimulates temporally precise TTX-sensitive brain activity 
  • Transcranial pulsed ultrasound confers an ~2 mm lateral functional resolution
  • Article in Neuron: Transcranial Pulsed Ultrasound Stimulates Intact Brain Circuits…

    Press release: New method offers platform for brain treatment…

    *This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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