IRVINE — In a technique that one day may be used to block pain and halt mental illness, four UC Irvine researchers have discovered a way to alter brain function with short bursts of ultrasound radiation.
"This is a totally new tool," said radiology professor Joie P. Jones, who has spent 10 years working with ultrasound on rats and believes that another five years may be needed before it can be tested on humans.
Reporting their work in the journal Brain Research, Jones and colleagues Patricia Rinaldi, Frederick Reines and LeRoy Price said they aimed short pulses of ultrasound radiation at a slice of the hippocampus, a portion of a rat's brain kept alive in solution.
In all six experiments, the focused radiation dramatically reduced the firing of neurons in the hippocampus. Within minutes after the radiation, however, the cells returned to normal activity, the researchers reported.