Transcranial ultrasound stimulation (tUS) has recently been gaining popularity as a means to modulate brain circuits.
It has a wide variety of clinical and neuroscience applications, while other options for brain stimulation are limited. For instance, current stimulation and magnetic stimulation have limited spatial specificity, deep brain stimulation requires surgery, and optogenetics requires genetic modification. Compared to these options, low intensity ultrasound stimulation offers a non-invasive approach to stimulate the brain, with resolutions up to millimetres.
Studies on the effectiveness of tUS as a therapeutic treatment has been done for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, major depressive disorder, Tourette syndrome, and obsessive compulsive disorder. tUS has been shown to increase certain brain chemicals in rats and elicited tactile sensation when targeted on the human sensory cortex. Most importantly, it has been shown to facilitate the recovery of patients from a coma after a brain injury.
More studies still have to be completed to test its specific effectiveness and limitations in humans, but tUS seems like a promising option to research as a therapy.