Transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation of cortical and thalamic somatosensory areas in human

Hyun Chul Kim, Wonhye Lee, Daniel S. Weisholtz, Seung Schik Yoo

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2 Scopus citations


The effects of transcranial focused ultrasound (FUS) stimulation of the primary somatosensory cortex and its thalamic projection (i.e., ventral posterolateral nucleus) on the generation of electroencephalographic (EEG) responses were evaluated in healthy human volunteers. Stimulation of the unilateral somatosensory circuits corresponding to the non-dominant hand generated EEG evoked potentials across all participants; however, not all perceived stimulation-mediated tactile sensations of the hand. These FUS-evoked EEG potentials (FEP) were observed from both brain hemispheres and shared similarities with somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEP) from median nerve stimulation. Use of a 0.5 ms pulse duration (PD) sonication given at 70% duty cycle, compared to the use of 1 and 2 ms PD, elicited more distinctive FEP peak features from the hemisphere ipsilateral to sonication. Although several participants reported hearing tones associated with FUS stimulation, the observed FEP were not likely to be confounded by the auditory sensation based on a separate measurement of auditory evoked potentials (AEP) to tonal stimulation (mimicking the same repetition frequency as the FUS stimulation). Off-line changes in resting-state functional connectivity (FC) associated with thalamic stimulation revealed that the FUS stimulation enhanced connectivity in a network of sensorimotor and sensory integration areas, which lasted for at least more than an hour. Clinical neurological evaluations, EEG, and neuroanatomical MRI did not reveal any adverse or unintended effects of sonication, attesting its safety. These results suggest that FUS stimulation may induce long-term neuroplasticity in humans, indicating its neurotherapeutic potential for various neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0288654
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7 July
StatePublished - Jul 2023


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