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 A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes
28.03.2017 | Technische Universität Braunschweig

nachricht 3-D visualization of the pancreas -- new tool in diabetes research
15.03.2017 | Umea 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: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>