Nature Neuroscience: Focused Ultrasound Enhances the Brain’s Sensory Perception


As reported in the current issue of Nature Neuroscience, scientists on Dr. William J. Tyler’s research team at Virginia Tech were interested in using focused ultrasound to noninvasively modify human brain function. They targeted sensory areas of the brain and were surprised by their findings: low-intensity focused ultrasound significantly improved function by decreasing impulses to the median nerve in the arm thereby enhancing the patients’ ability to discriminate between different kinds of stimulation. Secondly, they were impressed that the focused ultrasound could target smaller, more specific areas in the brain as compared to other neuromodulation technologies.

Michael Friedlander, Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and a neuroscientist who specializes in brain plasticity explained in their press release that this research could lead to a “…wide range of important uses, including potential treatments for neurodegenerative disorders, psychiatric diseases, and behavioral disorders.” He went on to say that it could also be “…a powerful new tool to explore the function of the healthy human brain, helping us understand cognition, decision-making, and thought.”

This study has garnered worldwide media attention. Reports have appeared in The Huffington Post, Medical News Today, R & D Magazine,, Science World Report, Science Codex, and many others.