The human brain uses the signals that come from the senses to adjust its behavior: for example, we hurry to turn off the stove if we feel the smell of burned from the roast that we are baking. In people suffering from neurological or psychiatric illnesses such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, these mechanisms are compromised and the processing of incoming sensory signals is altered due to communication distortions in neuronal networks. A way to restore normal functioning was studied by researchers from the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council (Istc-Cnr), which have developed a new non-invasive and personalized electrical stimulation technique, called transcranial Individual neuroDynamics Stimulation (tIDS), which can modify the excitability of the target region, with greater efficacy than today's methods. The study, made with the contribution of the Medical Statistics Service of the Fatebenefratelli-Isle Tiberina Foundation, was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
"One of the systems for re-establishing brain communication without going through the senses is the transcranial neuromodulation. This is a set of non-invasive techniques that by electrical or magnetic signals modify the activity of some regions of our brain and their connection with other brain areas" explains Franca Tecchio, Coordinator of the Laboratory of Electrophysiology for Translational neuroScience (Let's)-Istc-Cnr. "In this way, bypassing the senses, signals are sent directly to regions that do not receive them or distort them, restoring normal brain function."
The Let's-Cnr team has realized the tIDS technique by enriching transcranial neuromodulation with neuroimaging techniques. "Using neuroimaging, it is possible to observe and measure the processes of compromised areas. The tIDS consists of a low-intensity electrical stimulation that, before acting, is able to understand how the cerebral area works, and get in tune with it by neuromodulation" the researcher continues. "In this way, tIDS can optimize the targeting capacity of the stimulation, by exploiting specific features of the target zone. The tIDS noninvasive and personalized brain stimulation increases the effectiveness of the intervention."
The technique has been developed and tested in the primary motor cortex, but the research group intends to extend its use. "If we can demonstrate that this technique allows, besides increasing, also inhibiting the excitability of the target brain region, we will build tIDS that inhibit the areas where epilepsy is generated in patients who do not respond to conventional therapies." concludes Tecchio.
Roma, 18 gennaio 2018
Who: Laboratory of Electrophysiology for Translational neuroScience (Let’s) of the the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council (Istc-Cnr)
What: tIDS, a new noninvasive and personalized technique of electrical stimulation (tES)
Cnr Press Office