Ultrasound directed at brain can enhance perception
Ultrasound—the sound or vibrations used as a sensory guidance system—may heighten sensory perception in humans by modifying brain activity, according to new research.
Scientists from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute focused ultrasound on the cerebral cortex—the brain’s “gray matter” which processes sensory information. They also stimulated a nerve in the subject’s arm. The researchers placed two objects at two distinct points touching the subject’s arm at varying distances. They then tested the subject’s ability to distinguish when the objects touching the arm were doing so at two distinct points, rather than one.
The results, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed that the participants given ultrasound were better able to distinguish the objects at closer distances than were the participants not given ultrasound. Researchers said the reason for the improvement in sensory perception was most likely due to the ultrasound’s effectiveness in altering corresponding brain activity.
Scientists involved in the study said that further research of ultrasound may lead to noninvasive treatments for a range of neurodegenerative, psychiatric and behavioral disorders.