Advancements in non-invasive and controllable manipulation of region-specific cortical/subcortical activity in the brain will open new avenues not only for neuroscientific research, but also for clinical applications, ranging from functional brain mapping to treatment of numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders.
In the past, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have shown non-invasive neuro-modulatory potential; however, they lack spatial specificity and have a limited depth of penetration. Optogenetic techniques offer modulation of cell-level neural activity, yet, genetic modification of the neurons, causing sensitivity toward an external light stimulus, impedes their prompt utilization in humans.
Advancements in focused ultrasound (FUS) techniques, with image-guidance for targeting the sonication focus to a specific region-of-interest, have allowed for the non-invasive transcranial delivery of acoustic energy to cortical as well as deep brain structures with an excellent spatial selectively of only a few millimeters. Capitalizing on this capacity for spatial selectivity and depth penetration, we develop innovative new solutions for neurotherapeutics through acoustic modulation of regional neural activity of the brain.
Current research includes using FUS techniques to alter the neural activity of specific brain regions, creating the possibility of a non-invasive computer-to-brain interface (CBI). We have conducted studies in rats, rabbit, and sheep with the aim to improve FUS techniques and further improve our understanding of its impact. Furthermore, recent research of brain-to-computer interface and FUS, has led to the use of FUS techniques to non-invasively establish a link between two brains.