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 New imaging technique able to watch molecular dynamics of neurodegenerative diseases
14.07.2017 | The Optical Society

nachricht Quick test finds signs of sepsis in a single drop of blood
03.07.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>