Reversible neuroinhibition by focused ultrasound is mediated by a thermal mechanism.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) at low intensities has been reported to directly evoke responses and reversibly inhibit function in the central nervous system. While some doubt has been cast on the ability of ultrasound to directly evoke neuronal responses, spatially-restricted transcranial ultrasound has demonstrated consistent, inhibitory effects, but the underlying mechanism of reversible suppression in the central nervous system is not well understood. OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS:In this study, we sought to characterize the effect of transcranial, low-intensity, focused ultrasound on the thalamus during somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEP) and investigate the mechanism by modulating the parameters of ultrasound. METHODS:TFUS was applied to the ventral posterolateral nucleus of the thalamus of a rodent while electrically stimulating the tibial nerve to induce an SSEP. Thermal changes were also induced through an optical fiber that was image-guided to the same target. RESULTS:Focused ultrasound reversibly suppressed SSEPs in a spatially and intensity-dependent manner while remaining independent of duty cycle, peak pressure, or modulation frequency. Suppression was highly correlated and temporally consistent with in vivo temperature changes while producing no pathological changes on histology. Furthermore, stereotactically-guided delivery of thermal energy through an optical fiber produced similar thermal effects and suppression. CONCLUSION:We confirm that tFUS predominantly causes neuroinhibition and conclude that the most primary biophysical mechanism is the thermal effect of focused ultrasound.
Project description:Transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) has proven capable of stimulating cortical tissue in humans. tFUS confers high spatial resolutions with deep focal lengths and as such, has the potential to noninvasively modulate neural targets deep to the cortex in humans. We test the ability of single-element tFUS to noninvasively modulate unilateral thalamus in humans. Participants (N?=?40) underwent either tFUS or sham neuromodulation targeted at the unilateral sensory thalamus that contains the ventro-posterior lateral (VPL) nucleus of thalamus. Somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) were recorded from scalp electrodes contralateral to median nerve stimulation. Activity of the unilateral sensory thalamus was indexed by the P14 SEP generated in the VPL nucleus and cortical somatosensory activity by subsequent inflexions of the SEP and through time/frequency analysis. Participants also under went tactile behavioral assessment during either the tFUS or sham condition in a separate experiment. A detailed acoustic model using computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is also presented to assess the effect of individual skull morphology for single-element deep brain neuromodulation in humans. tFUS targeted at unilateral sensory thalamus inhibited the amplitude of the P14 SEP as compared to sham. There is evidence of translation of this effect to time windows of the EEG commensurate with SI and SII activities. These results were accompanied by alpha and beta power attenuation as well as time-locked gamma power inhibition. Furthermore, participants performed significantly worse than chance on a discrimination task during tFUS stimulation.
Project description:Transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) is an emerging method for non-invasive neuromodulation akin to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). tFUS offers several advantages over electromagnetic methods including high spatial resolution and the ability to reach deep brain targets. Here we describe two experiments assessing whether tFUS could modulate mood in healthy human volunteers by targeting the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG), an area implicated in mood and emotional regulation. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, participants received 30 s of 500 kHz tFUS or a placebo control. Visual Analog Mood Scales (VAMS) assessed mood four times within an hour (baseline and three times after tFUS). Participants who received tFUS reported an overall increase in Global Affect (GA), an aggregate score from the VAMS scale, indicating a positive shift in mood. Experiment 2 examined resting-state functional (FC) connectivity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) following 2 min of 500 kHz tFUS at the rIFG. As in Experiment 1, tFUS enhanced self-reported mood states and also decreased FC in resting state networks related to emotion and mood regulation. These results suggest that tFUS can be used to modulate mood and emotional regulation networks in the prefrontal cortex.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Recent studies in a variety of animal models including rodents, monkeys, and humans suggest that transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) has considerable promise for non-invasively modulating neural activity with the ability to target deep brain structures. However, concerns have been raised that motor responses evoked by tFUS may be due to indirect activation of the auditory pathway rather than direct activation of motor circuits. OBJECTIVE:In this study, we sought to examine the involvement of peripheral auditory system activation from tFUS stimulation applied to elicit motor responses. The purpose was to determine to what extent ultrasound induced auditory artifact could be a factor in ultrasound motor neuromodulation. METHODS:In this study, tFUS-induced electromyography (EMG) signals were recorded and analyzed in wild-type (WT) normal hearing mice and two strains of genetically deaf mice to examine the involvement of the peripheral auditory system in tFUS-stimulated motor responses. In addition, auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) were measured to elucidate the effect of the tFUS stimulus envelope on auditory and motor responses. We also varied the tFUS stimulation duration to measure its effect on motor response duration. RESULTS:We show, first, that the sharp edges in a tFUS rectangular envelope stimulus activate the peripheral afferent auditory pathway and, second, that smoothing these edges eliminates the auditory responses without affecting the motor responses in normal hearing WT mice. We further show that by eliminating peripheral auditory activity using two different strains of deaf knockout mice, motor responses are the same as in normal hearing WT mice. Finally, we demonstrate a high correlation between tFUS pulse duration and EMG response duration. CONCLUSION:These results support the concept that tFUS-evoked motor responses are not a result of stimulation of the peripheral auditory system.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) is a new non-invasive neuromodulation technique that uses mechanical energy to modulate neuronal excitability with high spatial precision. tFUS has been shown to be capable of modulating EEG brain activity in humans that is spatially restricted, and here, we use 7T MRI to extend these findings. We test the effect of tFUS on 7T BOLD fMRI signals from individual finger representations in the human primary motor cortex (M1) and connected cortical motor regions. Participants (N?=?5) performed a cued finger tapping task in a 7T MRI scanner with their thumb, index, and middle fingers to produce a BOLD signal for individual M1 finger representations during either tFUS or sham neuromodulation to the thumb representation. RESULTS:Results demonstrated a statistically significant increase in activation volume of the M1 thumb representation for the tFUS condition as compared to sham. No differences in percent BOLD changes were found. This effect was spatially confined as the index and middle finger M1 finger representations did not show similar significant changes in either percent change or activation volume. No effects were seen during tFUS to M1 in the supplementary motor area or the dorsal premotor cortex. CONCLUSIONS:Single element tFUS can be paired with high field MRI that does not induce significant artifact. tFUS increases activation volumes of the targeted finger representation that is spatially restricted within M1 but does not extend to functionally connected motor regions. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03634631 08/14/18.
Project description:Low-intensity transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) has emerged as a new non-invasive modality of brain stimulation with the potential for high spatial selectivity and penetration depth. Anesthesia is typically applied in animal-based tFUS brain stimulation models; however, the type and depth of anesthesia are known to introduce variability in responsiveness to the stimulation. Therefore, the ability to conduct sonication experiments on awake small animals, such as rats, is warranted to avoid confounding effects of anesthesia.We developed a miniature tFUS headgear, operating at 600 kHz, which can be attached to the skull of Sprague-Dawley rats through an implanted pedestal, allowing the ultrasound to be transcranially delivered to motor cortical areas of unanesthetized freely-moving rats. Video recordings were obtained to monitor physical responses from the rat during acoustic brain stimulation. The stimulation elicited body movements from various areas, such as the tail, limbs, and whiskers. Movement of the head, including chewing behavior, was also observed. When compared to the light ketamine/xylazine and isoflurane anesthetic conditions, the response rate increased while the latency to stimulation decreased in the awake condition. The individual variability in response rates was smaller during the awake condition compared to the anesthetic conditions. Our analysis of latency distribution of responses also suggested possible presence of acoustic startle responses mixed with stimulation-related physical movement. Post-tFUS monitoring of animal behaviors and histological analysis performed on the brain did not reveal any abnormalities after the repeated tFUS sessions.The wearable miniature tFUS configuration allowed for the stimulation of motor cortical areas in rats and elicited sonication-related movements under both awake and anesthetized conditions. The awake condition yielded diverse physical responses compared to those reported in existing literatures. The ability to conduct an experiment in freely-moving awake animals can be gainfully used to investigate the effects of acoustic neuromodulation free from the confounding effects of anesthesia, thus, may serve as a translational platform to large animals and humans.
Project description:In this review, several clinical applications of magnetic resonance (MR)-guided focused ultrasound (FUS) are updated. MR-guided FUS is used clinically for thermal ablation of uterine fibroids and bone metastases. Thousands of patients have successfully been treated. Transcranial MR-guided FUS has received CE certification for ablation of deep, central locations in the brain. Thermal ablation of specific parts of the thalamus can result in relief of the symptoms in a number of neurological disorders. Several approaches have been proposed for ablation of prostate and breast cancer and clinical trials should show the potential of MR-guided FUS for these and other applications.
Project description:OBJECTIVE Ultrasound can be precisely focused through the intact human skull to target deep regions of the brain for stereotactic ablations. Acoustic energy at much lower intensities is capable of both exciting and inhibiting neural tissues without causing tissue heating or damage. The objective of this study was to demonstrate the effects of low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) for neuromodulation and selective mapping in the thalamus of a large-brain animal. METHODS Ten Yorkshire swine ( Sus scrofa domesticus) were used in this study. In the first neuromodulation experiment, the lemniscal sensory thalamus was stereotactically targeted with LIFU, and somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) were monitored. In a second mapping experiment, the ventromedial and ventroposterolateral sensory thalamic nuclei were alternately targeted with LIFU, while both trigeminal and tibial evoked SSEPs were recorded. Temperature at the acoustic focus was assessed using MR thermography. At the end of the experiments, all tissues were assessed histologically for damage. RESULTS LIFU targeted to the ventroposterolateral thalamic nucleus suppressed SSEP amplitude to 71.6% ± 11.4% (mean ± SD) compared with baseline recordings. Second, we found a similar degree of inhibition with a high spatial resolution (? 2 mm) since adjacent thalamic nuclei could be selectively inhibited. The ventromedial thalamic nucleus could be inhibited without affecting the ventrolateral nucleus. During MR thermography imaging, there was no observed tissue heating during LIFU sonications and no histological evidence of tissue damage. CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that LIFU can be safely used to modulate neuronal circuits in the central nervous system and that noninvasive brain mapping with focused ultrasound may be feasible in humans.
Project description:Transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) is emerging as a non-invasive brain stimulation modality. Complicated interactions between acoustic pressure waves and osseous tissue introduce many challenges in the accurate targeting of an acoustic focus through the cranium. Image-guidance accompanied by a numerical simulation is desired to predict the intracranial acoustic propagation through the skull; however, such simulations typically demand heavy computation, which warrants an expedited processing method to provide on-site feedback for the user in guiding the acoustic focus to a particular brain region. In this paper, we present a multi-resolution simulation method based on the finite-difference time-domain formulation to model the transcranial propagation of acoustic waves from a single-element transducer (250?kHz). The multi-resolution approach improved computational efficiency by providing the flexibility in adjusting the spatial resolution. The simulation was also accelerated by utilizing parallelized computation through the graphic processing unit. To evaluate the accuracy of the method, we measured the actual acoustic fields through ex vivo sheep skulls with different sonication incident angles. The measured acoustic fields were compared to the simulation results in terms of focal location, dimensions, and pressure levels. The computational efficiency of the presented method was also assessed by comparing simulation speeds at various combinations of resolution grid settings. The multi-resolution grids consisting of 0.5 and 1.0?mm resolutions gave acceptable accuracy (under 3?mm in terms of focal position and dimension, less than 5% difference in peak pressure ratio) with a speed compatible with semi real-time user feedback (within 30?s). The proposed multi-resolution approach may serve as a novel tool for simulation-based guidance for tFUS applications.
Project description:For more than 70 years, the promise of noninvasive neuromodulation using focused ultrasound has been growing while diagnostic ultrasound established itself as a foundation of clinical imaging. Significant technical challenges have been overcome to allow transcranial focused ultrasound to deliver spatially restricted energy into the nervous system at a wide range of intensities. High-intensity focused ultrasound produces reliable permanent lesions within the brain, and low-intensity focused ultrasound has been reported to both excite and inhibit neural activity reversibly. Despite intense interest in this promising new platform for noninvasive, highly focused neuromodulation, the underlying mechanism remains elusive, though recent studies provide further insight. Despite the barriers, the potential of focused ultrasound to deliver a range of permanent and reversible neuromodulation with seamless translation from bench to the bedside warrants unparalleled attention and scientific investment. Focused ultrasound boasts a number of key features such as multimodal compatibility, submillimeter steerable focusing, multifocal, high temporal resolution, coregistration, and the ability to monitor delivered therapy and temperatures in real time. Despite the technical complexity, the future of noninvasive focused ultrasound for neuromodulation as a neuroscience and clinical platform remains bright.
Project description:Transcranial focused ultrasound is a non-invasive therapeutic modality that can be used to treat essential tremor. Beams of energy are focused into a small spot in the thalamus, resulting in tissue heating and ablation. Here, we report on a rapid 3D numeric simulation framework that can be used to predict focal spot characteristics prior to the application of ultrasound. By comparing with magnetic resonance proton resonance frequency shift thermometry (MR thermometry) data acquired during treatments of essential tremor, we verified that our simulation framework can be used to predict focal spot position, and with patient-specific calibration, predict focal spot temperature rise. Preliminary data suggests that lateral smearing of the focal spot can be simulated. The framework may also be relevant for other therapeutic ultrasound applications such as blood brain barrier opening and neuromodulation.