Prof. Elisa E. Konofagou, Columbia University, USA

TITLE: Harnessing ultrasound for modulation of the central and peripheral nervous system

ABSTRACT: Focused ultrasound (FUS) neuromodulation has previously been proposed as a promising technique to drive neuronal activity and has been shown throughout a breadth of applications including in mice, rats, non-human primates and humans as a novel technique for the noninvasive manipulation of neuronal activity using ultrasound. Our group and others have demonstrated excitation of both the central (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS). In the CNS, motor- and cognitive-related brain regions of mice were induced by targeting specific brain structures. Higher acoustic pressures increased the success rate. Pupil dilation was observed when neuromodulating regions in the brain covering the superior colliculus and other anxiety-related structures such as hippocampus and locus coeruleus. In the PNS, we showed for the first time stimulation of the sciatic nerve with FUS eliciting a physiological motor response was recorded in vivo. Clipping the sciatic nerve downstream of stimulation eliminated EMG activity during FUS stimulation. Peak-to-peak EMG responses and latencies were comparable to conventional electrical stimulation methods. Histology along with behavioral and thermal testing did not indicate damage to the nerve or surrounding regions. Finally, underlying mechanisms on the Piezo2 channel and clinical studies on pain mitigation will be shown. Our studies demonstrate the capability of FUS to modulate target specific regions in both the brain and the periphery with several potential clinical applications.

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