Safety and dose estimation of transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation

Cristina Pasquinelli

Research focus 
The project aims at the investigation of the safety and dose estimation of transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation (TFUS).

TFUS is an emerging method for the stimulation of the human and animal brain using ultrasound pulsation. Compared to other non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, it has the advantage of smaller volume size of the simulation, together with the possibility to reach deeper areas of the brain. However, despite its proven excitatory and inhibitory effects on humans and animals, investigations to explore the therapeutic window, which is the range within which the stimulation is safe and still effective, and the dose control, which is the actual dose that reaches the target after cranial transmission, are missing.

This project aims at collecting the available information on the possible harmful effects of TFUS in both animals and humans, to gain knowledge on the upper limit of the therapeutic window, and to understand whether further studies are necessary to identify the safety profile of TFUS. Moreover, the project aims at working on a procedure for dose control in complex and realistic scenarios, for example, after transcranial transmission. We built an experimental setup to characterize the ultrasound propagation without and with animal skull samples in a pure water background, with the possibility to export these data into an acoustic simulation environment. We investigate the effect of transducer and skull modeling on the simulation results. We are also motivated to examine the possibility of combining TFUS with functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) to observe the network response in animals to the stimulation and its dependency on the used parameters. For this reason, we are testing a capacitive micro-machined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) in a pre-clinical MRI scanner.

The project is carried out from both at the department DTU Health Tech and Danish Research Center for Magnetic Resonance at Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, where the acoustic measurement setup and MRI scanner are. The PhD student spent one year at BMM lab, at KAIST, South Korea, for her external stay.

Scientific output
Find Cristina's publications at DTU's online research database ORBIT

The project is internally funded by DTU. 

Project period 
December 2015 - October 2019  




Cristina Pasquinelli
DTU Health Tech
26 JANUARY 2021