Brain Stimulation with Ultrasound

A dream of neuroscience is to be able to non-invasively modulate any given region of the human brain with high spatial resolution. This would open new horizons for understanding human brain function and connectivity, and create completely new options for the non-invasive treatment of brain diseases such as intractable epilepsy, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. Ultrasonic neuromodulation, the use of ultrasound as an energy modality to affect the activity of the brain, provides a promising means to non-invasively, focally stimulate the brain. A series of seminal studies by William Jamie Tyler demonstrated that low intensity ultrasound can be used in the rodent brain to elicit strong neural activity and behavioral effects, including large motor movements. However, the cell packing density, ion channel composition, and local connectivity of the primate brain is very different from that of the rodent brain, thus it remains uncertain whether ultrasound can also be effectively used to stimulate the primate brain.  Our lab is investigating this question, using a combination of electrophysiology, fMRI, and calcium imaging.