Transcranial focused ultrasound neuromodulation of the human primary motor cortex

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 3;8(1):10007. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28320-1.


Transcranial focused ultrasound is an emerging form of non-invasive neuromodulation that uses acoustic energy to affect neuronal excitability. The effect of ultrasound on human motor cortical excitability and behavior is currently unknown. We apply ultrasound to the primary motor cortex in humans using a novel simultaneous transcranial ultrasound and magnetic stimulation paradigm that allows for concurrent and concentric ultrasound stimulation with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This allows for non-invasive inspection of the effect of ultrasound on motor neuronal excitability using the motor evoked potential (MEP). We test the effect of ultrasound on single pulse MEP recruitment curves and paired pulse protocols including short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF). In addition, we test the effect of ultrasound to motor cortex on a stimulus response reaction time task. Results show ultrasound inhibits the amplitude of single-pulse MEPs and attenuates intracortical facilitation but does not affect intracortical inhibition. Ultrasound also reduces reaction time on a simple stimulus response task. This is the first report of the effect of ultrasound on human motor cortical excitability and motor behavior and confirms previous results in the somatosensory cortex that ultrasound results in effective neuronal inhibition that confers a performance advantage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*
  • Young Adult