Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Good Vibrations: Mediating Mood Through Brain Ultrasound

18.07.2013
University of Arizona researchers have found in a recent study that ultrasound waves applied to specific areas of the brain are able to alter patients' moods. The discovery has led the scientists to conduct further investigations with the hope that this technique could one day be used to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Dr. Stuart Hameroff, professor emeritus of the UA's departments of anesthesiology and psychology and director of the UA's Center for Consciousness Studies, is lead author on the first clinical study of brain ultrasound, which was published in the journal Brain Stimulation.

Hameroff became interested in applying ultrasound to the human brain when he read about a study by colleague Jamie Tyler at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, who found physiological and behavioral effects in animals of ultrasound applied to the scalp, with the waves passing through the skull.

Hameroff knew that ultrasound vibrates in megahertz frequencies at about 10 million vibrations per second, and that microtubules, protein structures inside brain neurons linked to mood and consciousness, also resonate in megahertz frequencies. Hameroff proposed testing ultrasound treatment for mood on human brains.

"I said to my anesthesiology colleagues, 'we should try this on chronic pain patient volunteers.'" His colleagues respectfully suggested he try it on himself first. Hameroff acquiesced.

After 15 seconds with an ultrasound transducer, a standard ultrasound imaging device, placed against his head, Hameroff felt no effect.

"I put it down and said, 'well, that's not going to work,'" he said. "And then about a minute later I started to feel like I'd had a martini."

His mood was elevated for the next hour or two, Hameroff said. Aware that his experience could be a placebo effect, an imagined effect derived from his expectation to feel a change, Hameroff set out to properly test the treatment with a clinical trial.

With research committee and hospital approval, and patient informed consent, Hameroff and his colleagues applied transcranial ultrasound to chronic pain patients at The University of Arizona Medical Center-South Campus, in a double blind study in which neither doctor nor subject knew if the ultrasound machine had been switched on or off.

Patients reported improvements in mood for up to 40 minutes following treatment with brain ultrasound, compared with no difference in mood when the machine was switched off.

"Encouraging!" Hameroff remarked. "We're referring to transcranial ultrasound as 'TUS,'" he said. "Which is also the airport code for Tucson."

The discovery opens the door to a possible range of new applications of ultrasound in medicine.

"We frequently use ultrasound in the operating room for imaging," said Hameroff. "It's safe as long as you avoid excessive exposure and heating."

The mechanical waves, harmless at low intensities, penetrate the body's tissues and bones, and an echo effect is used to generate images of anatomical structures such as fetuses in the womb, organs and blood vessels.

Additionally, the high-frequency vibrations of ultrasound, which far exceed the range of human hearing and are undetectable when passing through the body, may be more desirable than existing brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. Used to treat clinically depressed patients, TMS can have side effects including the unpleasant sensation of magnetic waves moving through the head.

However, "the Brain Stimulation study wasn't very well designed because I'm not a skilled clinical psychologist, plus we were very limited in clinic time," Hameroff said. "So I got two of my colleagues, Jay Sanguinetti and John Allen, to join in and help out."

Sanguinetti, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychology and his adviser Allen, a UA distinguished professor of psychology, were intrigued by Hameroff's idea of testing ultrasound.

They conducted an initial study of ultrasound on UA psychology student volunteers, recording vital signs such as heart rate and breath rate, and narrowed down the optimum treatment to 2 megahertz for 30 seconds as the most likely to produce a positive mood change in patients.

"With 2 megahertz those who were stimulated with ultrasound reported feeling 'lighter,' or 'happier;' a little more attentive, a little more focused and a general increase in well-being," Sanguinetti said.

Allen and Sanguinetti then began a double blind clinical trial to verify the statistical significance of their findings and to rule out any possibility of a placebo effect in their patients. Results of the trials are being analyzed, Sanguinetti said.

"What we think is happening is that the ultrasound is making the neurons a little bit more likely to fire in the parts of the brain involved with mood," thus stimulating the brain's electrical activity and possibly leading to a change in how participants feel, Sanguinetti said.

The UA researchers are collaborating with the Silicon Valley-based company Neurotrek, which is developing a device that potentially could target specific regions of the brain with ultrasound bursts.

The UA researchers will work with a prototype of the Neurotrek device to test its efficacy and potential applications.

"The idea is that this device will be a wearable unit that noninvasively and safely interfaces with your brain using ultrasound to regulate neural activity," Sanguinetti said.

CONTACTS:

Stuart Hameroff, Director, UA Center for Consciousness Studies: 520-621-9317 hameroff@email.arizona.edu

Shelley Littin, UA University Communications: 520-621-1877; littin@email.arizona.edu

Links:
Research paper: http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/documents/TUSinpress2.pdf

Shelley Littin | University of Arizona
Further information:
http://www.uanews.org/story/good-vibrations-mediating-mood-through-brain-ultrasound

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized
23.05.2017 | Waseda University

nachricht Computer accurately identifies and delineates breast cancers on digital tissue slides
11.05.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 3-D look at the 2015 El Niño

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>