Roanoke, Va. The discovery that low-intensity, pulsed ultrasound can be used to noninvasively stimulate intact brain circuits holds promise for engineering rapid-response medical devices. The team that made that discovery, led by William "Jamie" Tyler, an assistant professor with the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, has now produced an in-depth article detailing this approach, which may one day lead to first-line therapies in combating life-threatening epileptic seizures.
Status epilepticus is a condition in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure and which, if not halted, can lead to Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). But, as the recent article by Tyler and colleagues shows, ultrasonic neuromodulation does not necessarily need to be focused to attenuate epileptic seizures, meaning that it can be quickly applied in neurocritical care situations.
"Imagine a device like an automatic external defibrillator except for the brain," said first author Yusuf Tufail, who is now a postdoctoral associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences.
Published in the September issue of Nature Protocols, the article, "Ultrasonic Neuromodulation by Brain Stimulation with Transcranial Ultrasound," provides a guide for the further development and clinical application of ultrasonic neuromodulation. The authors Yusuf Tufail, Anna Yoshihiro, and Monica M. Li of Arizona State University's School of Life Sciences; Sandipan Pati of Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz.; and corresponding author Tyler also published their earlier research into the feasibility of this approach in Neuron in 2010.
Ultrasound is an acoustic wave occurring at frequencies exceeding the range of human hearing. Uses range from food processing to communication and include medical imaging. Tyler and his research group have spent several years developing noninvasive me
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