A review of low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation

  • Alexander Bystritsky
    Correspondence: Alexander Bystritsky, MD, PhD, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, 300 UCLA Medical Plaza, 2335, Los Angeles, CA 90095.
    Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Alex S. Korb
    Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Pamela K. Douglas
    Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Mark S. Cohen
    Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

    Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT) and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

    Departments of Psychology, Neurology, Radiology, Biomedical Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • William P. Melega
    Department of Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Amit P. Mulgaonkar
    Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT) and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Antonio DeSalles
    Department of Neurosurgery, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Byoung-Kyong Min
    Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Seung-Schik Yoo
    Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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Published:April 04, 2011DOI:
      With the recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s Disease, dystonia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for epilepsy and depression, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for the treatment of depression, neuromodulation has become increasingly relevant to clinical research. However, these techniques have significant drawbacks (eg, lack of special specificity and depth for the rTMS, and invasiveness and cumbersome maintenance for DBS). This article reviews the background, rationale, and pilot studies to date, using a new brain stimulation method—low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation (LIFUP). The ability of ultrasound to be focused noninvasively through the skull anywhere within the brain, together with concurrent imaging (ie, functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI]) techniques, may create a role for research and clinical use of LIFUP. This technique is still in preclinical testing and needs to be assessed thoroughly before being advanced to clinical trials. In this study, we review over 50 years of research data on the use of focused ultrasound (FUS) in neuronal tissue and live brain, and propose novel applications of this noninvasive neuromodulation method.


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