Transcranial Ultrasound Stimulation 101
Ultrasound Stimulation is the cutting edge of brain stimulation techniques providing safe and more effective stimulation. At NeurGear we use Ultrasound Stimulation for brainwave entrainment, using this we’re able to ‘tune’ your brain to different cognitive states. This is how our device provides ‘Focus on Demand’™.
- The Science of Neuromodulation
- Transcranial Focused and Unfocused Ultrasound Stimulation
- Comparison for Transcranial Stimulation Technologies
The Science of Neuromodulation
What is Neuron?
These highly specialized nerve cells are responsible for communicating information in both chemical and electrical forms. There are also several different types of neurons responsible for different tasks in the human body.
Sensory neurons carry information from the sensory receptor cells throughout the body to the brain. Motor neurons transmit information from the brain to the muscles of the body. Interneurons are responsible for communicating information between different neurons in the body.
How Neuromodulation Works?
Neuromodulation from “Neuro” meaning Nerve, and “Modulation” meaning influencing something, comes together to mean influencing Nerves, which is exactly what neuromodulation does.
Neuromodulation can be either invasive or non-invasive. Invasive Neuromodulation offers much more customizability at the inherent risk and cost of requiring surgery of one kind or another. Here we will be talking about non-invasive Neuromodulation, but a lot of excellent research is being done on invasive neuromodulation, such as with Neuralink.
There are a variety of forms of non-invasive Neuromodulation, which we at NeurGear like to call Modalities. The main difference between these Modalities is the form of energy applied to the neuron, whether that be electrical(tDCS), magnetic(TMS), or mechanical(TUS).
The effects of non-invasive neuromodulation can vary depending on modality, area of stimulation, energy applied, and numerous other factors depending on the modality in question. In NeurGear’s case we use mechanical stimulation (TUS) to enhance your focus.
Transcranial Focused and Unfocused Ultrasound Stimulation
Transcranial Ultrasound Stimulation (TUS)
Transcranial Focused Ultrasound (TFUS) and Transcranial Unfocused Ultrasound (TUS) neuromodulation techniques share the same basic mechanisms of action. Whereas TFUS requires focusing the ultrasound into a beam, TUS aims to do the exact opposite making it more suited for brain-wide effects. One potent example of applications of TUS is the device we’re developing at NeurGear, which makes use of TUS and brainwave entrainment to give users ‘Focus on Demand’™.
Transcranial Focused Ultrasound Stimulation (TFUS)
Transcranial Focused Ultrasound Stimulation uses low-intensity focused Ultrasound to target specific brain regions non-invasively. Unlike other forms of Ultrasound, TFUS uses a targeted beam that induces therapeutic effects allowing us to non-invasively and specifically stimulate parts of the brain down to the level of a grain of rice. TFUS is helping push the frontier of our understanding of the brain, and is developing into a new medical treatment, with evidence mounting of the potential to treat even disease such as Alzheimers among a multitude of others.
The different parameters that can be changed in transcranial-focused ultrasound allow for a wide range of possible outcomes, from suppressing to stimulating neural activity. This customizeability further contributes to the potential of this technology, and its application to individual by individual needs.
Comparison for Transcranial Stimulation Technologies
Different NIBS techniques have been developed that utilize different forms of energy. We at NeurGear like to call these the modalities, or modes of stimulation. This includes direct and alternating current (electrical), magnetic, light, audio, and, of course, ultrasound. Each NIBS techniques havs itsown set of pros and cons, though we at NeurGear have found through extensive research Ultrasound to be the most promising, hence its use in our device.
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS)
Treatment that involves passing a small current through electrodes placed on the scalp. It is inexpensive and has few side effects, but it can be hard to predict how well it will work for any given person at any given time. Further, with improper procedure it can be easy for users to experience electro-chemical burns, headaches, and off-target effects.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
The most established technique, and is FDA approved for use in clinical settings to treat drug resistant depression. However, TMS comes with more contraindications, such as possible side effects, can also affect people variably and provides very superficial stimulation.
Transcranial Ultrasound Stimulation (TUS)
Noninvasive way to target specific areas of the brain, and it’s offering an alternative to currently employed stimulation techniques.
Transcranial Ultrasound Stimulation works by taking advantage of how sound travels through the brain. This means that tUS can effectively stimulate and reversibly suppress neuronal activity within the brain, transmitting through the skull with millimeter spatial resolution.
When comparing tUS offers greater anatomical precision and depth than tDCS and TMS, without causing significant effects in more superficial regions.