Low-intensity focused ultrasound modulates monkey visuomotor behavior

Curr Biol. 2013 Dec 2;23(23):2430-3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.029. Epub 2013 Nov 14.


In vivo feasibility of using low-intensity focused ultrasound (FUS) to transiently modulate the function of regional brain tissue has been recently tested in anesthetized lagomorphs [1] and rodents [2-4]. Hypothetically, ultrasonic stimulation of the brain possesses several advantages [5]: it does not necessitate surgery or genetic alteration but could ultimately confer spatial resolutions superior to other noninvasive methods. Here, we gauged the ability of noninvasive FUS to causally modulate high-level cognitive behavior. Therefore, we examined how FUS might interfere with prefrontal activity in two awake macaque rhesus monkeys that had been trained to perform an antisaccade (AS) task. We show that ultrasound significantly modulated AS latencies. Such effects proved to be dependent on FUS hemifield of stimulation (relative latency increases most for ipsilateral AS). These results are interpreted in terms of a modulation of saccade inhibition to the contralateral visual field due to the disruption of processing across the frontal eye fields. Our study demonstrates for the first time the feasibility of using FUS stimulation to causally modulate behavior in the awake nonhuman primate brain. This result supports the use of this approach to study brain function. Neurostimulation with ultrasound could be used for exploratory and therapeutic purposes noninvasively, with potentially unprecedented spatial resolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognition / radiation effects*
  • Echoencephalography
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Saccades / radiation effects
  • Sound*
  • Visual Fields / radiation effects