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The Post Sound Treatment for Brain Disorders

Sound Treatment for Brain Disorders

When things get rough, many Americans turn to prescription pills. About one in eight over the age of 12 take antidepressants for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, and a quarter of those have done so for 10 years or more, according to a 2017 study by the National Center for Health Statistics.

But what if treatments for brain disorders don’t need to be based on drugs? Even better, what if there is an alternative that doesn’t have adverse side effects and is noninvasive?

Researchers at the University of Utah may have found just that. They report that sound waves—specifically, high frequency ultrasound—has unique potential to treat mental disorders including depression and anxiety and neurological disorders such as chronic pain and epilepsy.

In initial studies with primates, ultrasound directed at specific neurons in the brain was able to control whether the subject looked left or right. The study subjects felt no discomfort and, in fact, did not feel the ultrasound at all. Importantly, the results showed targeted ultrasound can influence behavior.

All this is a first step, but the implications are exciting. Ultrasound has the potential to return malfunctioning neural circuits back to their normal state. One day, it could be the basis for personalized treatments to address the source of the problem in each individual.

– Adapted from a University of Utah press release