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Safety and feasibility of focused ultrasound neuromodulation in temporal lobe epilepsy


Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common pharmacologically refractory form of epilepsy. While it can often be effectively treated by temporal lobe surgery, that does not always eliminate seizures, and many patients are not suitable candidates for surgery. A non-invasive method to augment surgical or medical treatment of TLE would be highly useful. Low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation (LIFUP) offers the potential for non-invasive neuromodulation, and in animal studies has not shown any evidence of tissue damage. However, the technology has not yet been tested in humans. We are currently testing the safety and feasibility of using a LIFUP device on humans to modulate brain activity in the temporal lobe.


Participants will be recruited from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy treated by the UCLA Seizure Disorder Center’s who have elected to undergo temporal lobe surgery. In the week prior to the scheduled surgery participants will undergo simultaneous LIFUP and fMRI using various LIFUP pulsing paradigms to excite or suppress neural tissue. The BOLD signal will be analyzed to determine whether LIFUP can activate or suppress region-specific neural activity in the temporal lobe. LIFUP will be administered at 3 different intensities.

To help determine safety of LIFUP participants will also undergo pre- and post-EEG and neuropsychological testing. To determine whether or not LIFUP causes tissue damage, post- surgery samples of the resected temporal lobe tissue in both sonicated and un-sonicated areas will undergo histological analysis.

Acknowledgements (Funding)

We would like to thank the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman NY Foundation for Medical Research for funding.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Bystritsky, A., Korb, A., Stern, J. et al. Safety and feasibility of focused ultrasound neuromodulation in temporal lobe epilepsy. J Ther Ultrasound 3 (Suppl 1), O27 (2015).

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