Brain's secrets may soon be unlocked with help of sound
A new breakthrough may help researchers unlock the brain's secrets noninvasively using sound, and perhaps create new treatments for illnesses.
Scientists have known for a while that ultrasonic waves can affect cells in many ways.
A new model may help clarify much of this behavior. This new way of understanding the interaction of sound waves and cells relies on the cellular membrane.
This microscopic structure is the skin that surrounds a cell, keeping the organelles a€" like the nucleus and the DNA it contains a€" in, and the rest of the world out. The molecules that form the membrane are arranged in such a way that there are two layers, with a space between them.
According to Technion Professors Eitan Kimmel's model, when the ultrasonic waves encounter a cell, the two layers of the cellular membrane begin to vibrate.
Cell membranes also act as capacitors, storing electrical charge. As the layers vibrate, the membrane's electrical charge also moves, creating an alternating current that leads to a charge accumulation. The longer the vibrations continue, the more charge builds up in the membrane. Eventually, enough charge builds up that an action potential is created.
The Technion team was able to use the model to predict experimental results that were then verified using brain stimulation experiments performed in mice by a team at Stanford University.
The findings have been published in Physical Review X.
(Posted on 26-01-2014)