6. New non-invasive brain stimulation method could treat autism and moreMassachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have figured out how to non-invasively deliver electrical stimulation to specific parts of the brain.
In collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the IT’IS Foundation, the MIT researchers have placed electrodes on the scalps of patients to stimulate regions that are deep in the brain, making a non-invasive, less risky and cost-effective way to stimulate the brain.
To treat Parkinson’s disease, electrodes are placed in the sub thalamic nucleus below the thalamus deep within the brain. The electrical impulses that get delivered are known to improve symptoms of the disease, but the surgery itself to implant the electrodes is the risky part.
The MIT researchers have found a way around that to deliver the electrical stimulation deep in the brain through scalp electrodes using temporal interference. Two high-frequency electrical currents are created using the electrodes outside of the brain. The current intersect each other deep inside the brain and a small area of low-frequency current is created inside neurons. The low-frequency current drives neuron electrical activity and the high-frequency current is able to pass through tissues without creating an effect.
Because the frequency of the currents can be tuned, the size and location of the brain tissue that receives stimulation can be controlled. Locations deep inside the brain can be stimulated without surrounding tissues being affected. The stimulation can also be steered without moving the electrode by changing the currents.