In DepthNeuroscience

Hope grows for targeting the brain with ultrasound

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Science  26 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1408-1409
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6498.1408

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Summary

As a way to see inside the body, revealing a tumor or a fetus, ultrasound is tried and true. But neuroscientists have a newer ambition for the technology: tinkering with the brain. At frequencies lower than those of a sonogram but still beyond the range of human hearing, ultrasound can penetrate the skull and boost or suppress brain activity. If researchers can prove that ultrasound safely and predictably changes human brain function, it could become a powerful, noninvasive research tool and a new means of treating brain disorders. How ultrasound works on the brain remains mysterious. But recent experiments have offered reassurance about safety, and small studies hint at meaningful effects in humans—dampening pain, for example, or subtly enhancing perception.

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