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Researchers find new way to stimulate neurons deep in brain

Nir Grossman, Suhasa B. Kodandaramaiah and Andrii Rudenko.

Researchers have discovered a way to stimulate neurons deep within the brain without the invasive, implanted electrodes that physicians currently use to treat severe brain-related conditions like Parkinson's disease.

Current limitations: Implanted electrodes stimulate neurons in just one part of the brain and aren't helpful for other conditions (like stroke, traumatic brain injury or memory loss from Alzheimer's) that might benefit from much wider deep-brain stimulation that doesn't cause lasting damage to surrounding brain tissue.

What they did: Researchers from MIT sent two high-frequency electrical signals, which pass through the brain without exciting many neurons, from opposite sides of the brain in mice. They met in the middle, creating a new type of electrical wave that stimulated the neurons in a deep region of the brain.

Why it matters: Current non-invasive methods aren't able to work deep in the brain, which is where efforts to repair damage to neurons are most needed.