Focused ultrasound modulates region-specific brain activity

Seung Schik Yoo, Alexander Bystritsky, Jong Hwan Lee, Yongzhi Zhang, Krisztina Fischer, Byoung Kyong Min, Nathan J. McDannold, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Ferenc A. Jolesz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

407 Citations (Scopus)


We demonstrated the in vivo feasibility of using focused ultrasound (FUS) to transiently modulate (through either stimulation or suppression) the function of regional brain tissue in rabbits. FUS was delivered in a train of pulses at low acoustic energy, far below the cavitation threshold, to the animal's somatomotor and visual areas, as guided by anatomical and functional information from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The temporary alterations in the brain function affected by the sonication were characterized by both electrophysiological recordings and functional brain mapping achieved through the use of functional MRI (fMRI). The modulatory effects were bimodal, whereby the brain activity could either be stimulated or selectively suppressed. Histological analysis of the excised brain tissue after the sonication demonstrated that the FUS did not elicit any tissue damages. Unlike transcranial magnetic stimulation, FUS can be applied to deep structures in the brain with greater spatial precision. Transient modulation of brain function using image-guided and anatomically-targeted FUS would enable the investigation of functional connectivity between brain regions and will eventually lead to a better understanding of localized brain functions. It is anticipated that the use of this technology will have an impact on brain research and may offer novel therapeutic interventions in various neurological conditions and psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1267-1275
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation , NARSAD , the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (to S.S. Yoo), and the Gerald J and Dorothy R Friedman Foundation for Medical Research (to S.S. Yoo and A. Bystritsky). We also acknowledge support from NARSAD (Woody Wurster Distinguished Investigator Award to A. Bystritsky), the National Center for Research Resources , and the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center ( UL1 RR025758 ) and NIH grant K24 RR018875 (to A. Pascual-Leone). The authors thank the editorial support from Matthew Marzelli.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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