| neurology

“Tantalizing Data” for Dampening Pain

Huge Potential for Brain Ultrasound

Neuroscientists are investigating a new target for ultrasound: the brain. By focusing sound waves “on a point deep in the brain” such as the amygdala “without affecting shallower tissue” scientists may be able to treat disease and regulate pain. Although there’s a lot still to be worked out, such as how to aim the ultrasound through the skull, the researchers “have tremendous excitement about the potential” for meaningful effects.

“I’ve seen a lot of tantalizing data,” says Mark Cohen, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “While the challenges are very large, the potential of this thing is so much larger that we really have to pursue it.” One potential treatment use: ultrasound can eliminate tremors by killing brain cells responsible for those tremors. Another huge benefit: pain reduction. When pulses of ultrasound were aimed at the thalamus, pain thresholds were positively affected.

 

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