Forward-looking engineering concepts for ultrasonic modulation of neural circuit activity in humans

Grace M. Hwang, Shane W. Lani, Allan P. Rosenberg, Marina B. Congedo, William J. Tyler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


We examine the potential for low-intensity focused ultrasound to non-invasively produce small (< 1mm3) focal acoustic fields for precise brain stimulation near the skull. Our goal is to utilize transcranial ultrasonic neuromodulation to transform communications and immersive gaming experiences and to optimize neuromodulation applications in medicine. To begin evaluating possible hardware design strategies for engineering ultrasonic brain interfaces, in the present study we evaluated the skull transmission properties of longitudinal and shear waves as a function of incidence angle for 0-2 MHz. We also employed K-wave and time-reversal numerical simulations to further inspect waveform interactions with modeled layers. Timereversal focusing for single-layer and three-layer skull cases were simulated for three different bandwidth ranges (MHz): Broadband(0-2), 1 MHz(0.4-1.4), and 0.2 MHz(0.4-0.6). Broadband and 1 MHz bandwidths emulate the performance of micromachined or piezo membrane ultrasonic arrays, while 0.2 MHz bandwidth is representative of the performance of conventional piezoelectric ultrasonic transducer. We found the 3dB focal volume was ∼0.6 mm for broadband and 1 MHz, with the latter showing a slightly larger sidelobe. In contrast, 0.2 MHz nearly doubled the size of the 3dB focal volume while producing prominent sidelobes. Our results provide initial confirmation that a broadband, ultrasonic, linear array can access the first 15 mm of the human brain, which contains circuitry essential to sensory processing including pre-motor and motor planning, somatosensory feedback, and visual attention. These areas are critical targets for providing haptic feedback via non-invasive neural stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications X
EditorsM. Saif Islam, Thomas George, Achyut K. Dutta
ISBN (Electronic)9781510617896
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 Micro- and Nanotechnology (MNT) Sensors, Systems, and Applications X Conference - Orlando, United States
Duration: Apr 15 2018Apr 19 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


Other2018 Micro- and Nanotechnology (MNT) Sensors, Systems, and Applications X Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
  • Capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers (CMUTs)
  • Haptics
  • Human-Computer Interface (HCI)
  • Low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU)
  • Piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducers (PMUTs)
  • Transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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