New paper out in Nature Neuroscience !

Noninvasive theta-burst stimulation of the human striatum enhances striatal activity and motor skill learning

Maximilian J. Wessel*, Elena Beanato*, et al.

By combining temporal interference stimulation and functional Magnetic Reasonnance Imaging (fMRI), we show noninvasive and focal deep brain stimulation of the human striatum during motor learning. Dive into the main results through the visuals showcased in this post. Check here for a more detailed description or access the full paper directly here for an in-depth understanding of our research.

We compared the neural and behavioral effects of transcranial Temporal Interference Stimulation (tTIS, patterned as a classical iTBS protocol) with an active high frequency control while participants performed a motor sequence learning task in the MRI with concurrent tTIS

tTIS increased BOLD activity in the striatum during the task, specifically in the putamen, a subpart of the striatum which was already engaged in the task (compared to rest)

A whole-brain analysis also revealed an increase of BOLD activity associated to tTIS compared to the control, in several hubs of the motor network, including Supplementary Motor Area, thalamus and cerebellum, but not underneath the stimulation electrodes (see also the functional connectivity analyses in the paper)

Finally, tTIS also showed a beneficial effect on behavioral performance, which was better during active compared to control stimulation. This effect was particularly pronounced in the older cohort, potentially because of deficient learning mechanisms in this population

More results are available in the complete paper including simulations of electrical fields, correlations between tTIS effect and behavior, characterization of changes of activity within the striatum, etc.

Overall, this new approach may have important fundamental as well as clinical applications as it represents a completely new opportunity for non-invasive focal deep brain stimulation. Congratulations to the co-first authors Max Wessel and Elena Beanato, as well as all co-authors!