“which is usually something which many of us inside the field have wished for for a long time,” said Dr. Rotenberg, who said which might also eventually help tens of thousands of epilepsy patients for whom medications fail. Dr. Rotenberg as well as Dr. Mayberg said they could also envision the technique as a diagnostic tool to pinpoint the best brain location to target for electrical stimulation before surgically implanting electrodes for deep brain stimulation.
At a time when scientists are developing sophisticated technological approaches to look inside the brain as well as manipulate brain cells — including a celebrated technique called optogenetics which was created in part by Dr. Boyden — the fresh study uses a basic as well as long-established tool: electricity. although which adds a brand fresh twist.
“Rather than try to prove another way to modulate the brain, they take a very simple technology as well as are using which in a unique way,” said Dr. Casey Harrison Halpern, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University who uses deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s as well as O.C.D. as well as was not involved inside the study. “today we just have to see where which plays out best inside the clinical arena. I could rattle off 10 potential ways which which could as well as should be tested.”
The method, called temporal interference, involves beaming different electric frequencies, too high for neurons to respond to, coming from electrodes on the skull’s surface. The team found which where the currents intersected inside the brain, the frequencies interfered with each additional, essentially canceling out all although the difference between them as well as leaving a low-frequency current which neurons in which location responded to, Dr. Boyden said.
“Very high frequency electronic fields are much faster than the brain can actually follow for the same reasons which you as well as I can’t hear sonar,” he said. “although if you deliver 1,000 hertz as well as 1,001 hertz to the brain, the neuron will react as if you were delivering 1 hertz. as well as only the region where the two interfere is usually where you get the signal.”
which means additional regions might be unaffected by the electricity, unlike what happens with additional surface techniques, like transcranial magnetic stimulation, a federally-approved treatment for depression.
When the team used electricity to stimulate the hippocampus in mice, “there’s no evidence whatsoever which the neurons were activated,” inside the cortex as well as additional structures closer to the surface, said Li-Huei Tsai, director of M.I.T.’s Picower Institute for Learning as well as Memory, who led the mouse experiments.
“Before you see the results, you’re like ‘definitely?’” she said. “although we saw the extremely precise localized signal only inside the region we stimulated.”
To further test whether they could target the electricity, the researchers aimed at certain spots inside the motor cortex causing mice to move forepaws, whiskers or ears. The technique caused no safety problems, Dr. Tsai said.
Several experts raised potential limitations as well as questions, however. Dr. Mayberg said which might have to deliver frequencies like 130 hertz, higher than those inside the study, as well as might need to work among complex brain circuitry, like the white matter bundles her work involves.
Dr. Michael Okun, a neurologist at University of Florida as well as medical director for the Parkinson’s Foundation, said delivering electricity to people who need which occasionally or even once a day seemed more feasible than for people with “complex diseases like Parkinson’s who have a need for near-continuous stimulation.”
All the experts wondered about logistics: might patients use a portable, wearable electricity-delivery device? as well as they emphasized a need to direct electricity to smaller, more precise brain locations, a limitation Dr. Boyden said he hopes can be addressed by using more electrodes.
“We’ve got to avoid areas of the brain which might cause motor contractions or weakness or problems with speech or vision,” Dr. Okun said. “A couple of millimeters in brain space could be the distance between Florida as well as Australia.”
Still, he said, so far “they’ve accomplished something which’s fairly remarkable.”
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