Focused ultrasound-mediated non-invasive brain stimulation: examination of sonication parameters

Brain Stimul. 2014 Sep-Oct;7(5):748-56. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2014.06.011. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Background: Transcranial focused ultrasound (FUS) has emerged as a new brain stimulation modality. The range of sonication parameters for successful brain stimulation warrants further investigation.

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the range of FUS sonication parameters that minimize the acoustic intensity/energy deposition while successfully stimulating the motor brain area in Sprague-Dawley rats.

Methods: We transcranially administered FUS to the somatomotor area of the rat brain and measured the acoustic intensity that caused excitatory effects with respect to different pulsing parameters (tone-burst duration, pulse-repetition frequency, duty cycle, and sonication duration) at 350 and 650 kHz of fundamental frequency.

Results: We observed that motor responses were elicited at minimum threshold acoustic intensities (4.9-5.6 W/cm(2) in spatial-peak pulse-average intensity; 2.5-2.8 W/cm(2) in spatial-peak temporal-average intensity) in a limited range of sonication parameters, i.e. 1-5 ms of tone-burst duration, 50% of duty cycle, and 300 ms of sonication duration, at 350 kHz fundamental frequency. We also found that the pulsed sonication elicited motor responses at lower acoustic intensities than its equivalent continuous sonication.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the pulsed application of FUS selectively stimulates specific brain areas-of-interest at an acoustic intensity that is compatible with regulatory safety limits on biological tissue, thus allowing for potential applications in neurotherapeutics.

Keywords: Focused ultrasound; Neuromodulation; Neurostimulation; Parameter; Sonication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • High-Energy Shock Waves*
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sonication / instrumentation
  • Sonication / methods
  • Stereotaxic Techniques* / instrumentation