Foundation Funded Research Update – Focused Ultrasound for Neuromodulation


Focused ultrasound has the potential to become a new, and potentially more effective, tool for non-invasive neuromodulation of regional brain function. A Foundation-funded research study to test its use in vivo without interference from anesthesia has recently been completed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Wonhye Lee, PhD (pictured below), Seung-Schik Yoo, PhD, MBA, and their colleagues designed and tested wearable devices for evaluating this capability.

Lee WonhyeThe goals of the project, entitled “FUS-Mediated Neuromodulation From Unanesthetized Freely-moving Animals,” were to develop advanced capabilities for studying the neuromodulatory effects of focused ultrasound under different anesthetic conditions, including awake. The researchers designed and created wearable miniature headgear for applying non-thermal, transcranial focused ultrasound to the somatomotor area of the brain. The devices also enabled motor behavioral monitoring of focused ultrasound-mediated movements. The team conducted in vivo experiments to demonstrate the safety of the procedure and its clinical feasibility.

“For me, one take-home point is that the ketamine/xylazine anesthesia approach is the best way to perform this type of neuromodulation research,” said Matt Eames, PhD, the Foundation’s Director of Extramural Research. “The neuromodulation research community has long been aware that their choice of anesthesia impacted their results, and this study put those choices in direct comparison with unanesthetised animals to help end the debate.”

Study results were presented at the Biomedical Engineering Society’s 2017 Annual meeting and will be presented as an invited talk at the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics (SMBT) 2018 Annual Congress. The next steps will be to improve the experimental system’s delivery of energy. Read More >