Using ultrasound to map brain function?
As children we learned about the amazing ultrasound honing abilities of bats. Today scientists have found that ultrasound can increase sensory perception in humans as well.
A recent study from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute found that directing ultrasound to a particular area of the brain heightens the accuracy of a patient’s senses. Researchers found that this is particularly true about the sense of feeling.
They arrived at this conclusion by stimulating an area of the brain’s cerebral cortex which is smaller than the size of an M&M®. This area controls the sense of feeling of the human hand.
Scientists tested the subjects’ abilities to distinguish between two points on the surface of the skin. Those subjects who were stimulated with ultrasound were able to distinguish these points with far more efficiency then those who were not.
Subjects were also tested on their ability to distinguish a series of different puffs of air upon their skin. Again, those treated with ultrasound had a heightened ability to differentiate between the air puffs.
“In neuroscience… It’s easy to make things worse, but it’s hard to make them better. These findings make us believe we’re on the right path,” said lead scientist of the study, William Tyler, in a statement.
Ultrasound is a safe and noninvasive way to stimulate various centers of the brain and record activity. The new technique is much more precise than any technology that is used in brain stimulation technologies to date.
Because of this, researchers believe ultrasound has proven to be the most effective method of mapping the brain’s complex web of neurons and will allow scientists to further study just how the amazing human brain works.
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