Ultrasound Sharpens Sensory Perception

According to this article, low intensity transcranial ultrasound can heighten sensory perception in humans. Scientists at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute showed that subjects receiving ultrasound showed significant improvements to their ability to perform on two neurological tests. These tests being, the two point discrimination test and the frequent discrimination test.

The Human Brain

The Human Brain

The team of scientists focused ultrasound on an area of the cerebral cortex that processes sensory information received from the hand. Small electrodes were placed on the wrists of volunteers and used an electroencephalography(EEG) machine to record their brain waves. The ultrasound decreased the EEG signal and weakened the brain waves that are responsible for encoding tactile stimulation. Strangely enough the results showed a heightening of the volunteer’s performance on the tests. William “Jamie” Tyler said, “even though the brain waves associated with the tactile stimulation had weakened, people actually got better at detecting differences in sensations.”

The scientists then moved the ultrasound beam 1 centimeter to one side, then the other from the original site. The effect then disappeared. This finding “represents a new way of non-invasively modulating human brain activity with a better spatial resolution than anything currently available.” Ultrasound has finer spatial resolution than either of the other two noninvasive brain stimulation technologies; magnetic stimulation and direct current stimulation which delivers weak electrical currents directly to the brain.

Tyler said, “In neuroscience, it’s easy to disrupt things, we can distract you make you feel numb..” he goes on to say, “It’s easy to make things worse, but it’s way harder to make them better.” However these findings make them optimistic that they are on the correct path.

 

via Tyde Pavlinik http://ift.tt/LMTlpK

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