Pulsed focused ultrasound changes nerve conduction of earthworm giant axonal fibers

Neuroreport. 2017 Mar 1;28(4):229-233. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000745.


This study examined the effects of pulsed focused ultrasound (FUS) in disrupting nerve conduction. FUS operating at a 210 kHz fundamental frequency was administered to the medial and lateral giant axonal nerve fibers of earthworms in a burst of pulses (1 ms tone burst duration, 20 Hz pulse repetition frequency). The magnitude and latencies of the nerve potentials induced by electrical stimulation were measured under three experimental conditions - (I) no sonication, (II) sonication at 600 mW/cm spatial-peak temporal-average intensity (Ispta), and (III) sonication at 200 mW/cm Ispta. The sonication at 600 mW/cm temporarily decreased the magnitude of the action potential peak (~16%), whereas the baseline peak level was quickly restored in postsonication sessions. Sonication administered at a lower intensity (i.e. 200 mW/cm) did not alter the peak magnitude. The sonication did not alter the nerve conduction velocity. The acoustic intensities used in the experiment did not increase the temperature of the sonicated tissue. The results indicate that axonal neurotransmission can be disrupted temporarily by the application of pulsed FUS, suggesting its potential utility in modulating the functional connectivity established by white matter tracts in the brain.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / radiation effects
  • Animals
  • Axons / radiation effects*
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Oligochaeta
  • Sonication*
  • Ultrasonic Waves*