Objective: Target selectivity of deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy is critical, as the precise locus and pattern of the stimulation dictates the degree to which desired treatment responses are achieved and adverse side effects are avoided. There is a clear clinical need to improve DBS technology beyond currently available stimulation steering and shaping approaches. We introduce orientation selective neural stimulation as a concept to increase the specificity of target selection in DBS.
Approach: This concept, which involves orienting the electric field along an axonal pathway, was tested in the corpus callosum of the rat brain by freely controlling the direction of the electric field on a plane using a three-electrode bundle, and monitoring the response of the neurons using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Computational models were developed to further analyze axonal excitability for varied electric field orientation.
Main results: Our results demonstrated that the strongest fMRI response was observed when the electric field was oriented parallel to the axons, while almost no response was detected with the perpendicular orientation of the electric field relative to the primary fiber tract. These results were confirmed by computational models of the experimental paradigm quantifying the activation of radially distributed axons while varying the primary direction of the electric field.
Significance: The described strategies identify a new course for selective neuromodulation paradigms in DBS based on axonal fiber orientation.