Ultrasound Offers New Way to Perform Deep Brain Stimulation

MIT engineers’ implantable ImPULS device could become an alternative to the electrodes now used to treat Parkinson’s and other diseases.

Canan Dagdeviren, PhD

Deep brain stimulation, by implanted electrodes that deliver electrical pulses to the brain, is often used to treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. However, the electrodes used for this treatment can eventually corrode and accumulate scar tissue, requiring them to be removed. MIT researchers have now developed an alternative approach that uses ultrasound instead of electricity to perform deep brain stimulation, delivered by a fiber about the thickness of a human hair. In a study of mice, they showed that this stimulation can trigger neurons to release dopamine, in a part of the brain that is often targeted in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

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