Transcranial ultrasound (TUS) effects on mental states: A pilot study

Stuart Hameroff, Michael Trakas, Chris Duffield, Emil Annabi, M. Bagambhrini Gerace, Patrick Boyle, Anthony Lucas, Quinlan Amos, Annemarie Buadu, John J. Badal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Background/Objective: Transcranial ultrasound (TUS) can modulate brain function. To assess possible TUS modulation of mental states, we investigated effects on subjective reports of pain and mood of sub-thermal TUS versus placebo applied to frontal scalp and brain of chronic pain patient volunteers. Methods: With IRB approval and informed consent, subjects with chronic pain completed two visual analog scales for pain (NRS) and mood (VAMS/Global Affect), and their vital signs were recorded 10 min prior to, and 10 min and 40 min following exposure to either subthermal TUS (8 MHz) or placebo (in a double blind crossover study) using the 12L-RS probe of a LOGIQe ultrasound imaging machine (General Electric, USA). A physician, also blinded for TUS versus placebo, applied the probe (with gel) to scalp over posterior frontal cortex, contralateral to maximal pain, for 15 seconds. A second investigator operated the ultrasound machine, randomizing TUS versus placebo. The process was then repeated, applying the opposite modality (TUS or placebo). Results: Subjective reports of Mood/Global Affect were improved 10 min (P = 0.03) and 40 min (P = 0.04) following TUS compared with placebo. NRS pain reports slightly improved following TUS (P = 0.07) at 40 min. Conclusion: We found improvement in subjective mood 10 min and 40 min after TUS compared to placebo. TUS can have safe neurophysiological effects on brain function, and is a promising noninvasive therapy for modulating conscious and unconscious mental states and disorders. We suggest TUS acts via intra-neuronal microtubules, which apparently resonate in TUS megahertz range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-415
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Brain
  • Chronic pain
  • Consciousness
  • Mental states
  • Microtubules
  • Mood
  • Noninvasive therapies
  • TUS
  • Transcranial therapies
  • Transcranial ultrasound
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Biophysics
  • Clinical Neurology


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