The team has observed that the mechanical bioeffects of ultrasound are indeed capable of stimulating neuronal activity, meaning that ultrasound could join other therapies for neurological disorders namely, implanted electrodes, such as those used in deep-brain stimulation, and external magnetic stimulators used for transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat disorders such as Parkinson's disease, major depression, and dystonia. The major advantage of using ultrasound for brain stimulation is that it can confer spatial resolution at millimeter precision while being focused through the skull to deep-brain regions without the need for invasive brain surgery, Tyler said.
"We have also shown that ultrasound can be used to stimulate synaptic transmission between groups of neurons within the brain in a manner similar to conventional implanted stimulating electrodes without generating significant heating of the brain tissue," said Tyler.
"Further studies are required to fully elucidate the many potential mechanisms underlying the ability of ultrasound to stimulate neuronal activity in the intact brain," the article states. However, while using ultrasound for brain stimulation represents a powerful new tool for clinical neuroscience, there are potential concerns, since high-intensity ultrasound is also capable of destroying biological tissues, the researchers write.
The article reports that ultrasound has been used for many hours across many weeks, "stimulating cellular circuits in the living brain without producing damage in mice as assessed with cellular, histological, ultrastructural, and behavioral methods." The researchers added a note of caution: "Additional investigations across an
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