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Title: Closed-loop stimulation using a multiregion brain-machine interface has analgesic effects in rodents
Pain relief on-demand Chronic pain is a debilitating condition for which there are no effective treatments. The primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) are involved in decoding pain components, and electrical stimulation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been shown to exert analgesic effects. Here, Sun et al. developed a multiregion brain-machine interface (BMI) able to detect pain from electrical signals in S1 and ACC and provide on-demand PFC stimulation. The BMI was able to accurately detect and treat acute and chronic pain in rats; the analgesic effects were stable over time. The results suggest that BMI approaches might be effective for treating chronic pain of different etiologies.
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Science Translational Medicine
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  2. Abstract

    Objective. There has been growing interest in understanding multisensory integration in the cortex through activation of multiple sensory and motor pathways to treat brain disorders, such as tinnitus or essential tremors. For tinnitus, previous studies show that combined sound and body stimulation can modulate the auditory pathway and lead to significant improvements in tinnitus symptoms. Considering that tinnitus is a type of chronic auditory pain, bimodal stimulation could potentially alter activity in the somatosensory pathway relevant for treating chronic pain. As an initial step towards that goal, we mapped and characterized neuromodulation effects in the somatosensory cortex (SC) in response to sound and/or electrical stimulation of the body.Approach.We first mapped the topographic organization of activity across the SC of ketamine-anesthetized guinea pigs through electrical stimulation of different body locations using subcutaneous needle electrodes or with broadband acoustic stimulation. We then characterized how neural activity in different parts of the SC could be facilitated or suppressed with bimodal stimulation.Main results. The topography in the SC of guinea pigs in response to electrical stimulation of the body aligns consistently to that shown in previous rodent studies. Interestingly, auditory broadband noise stimulation primarily excited SC areas that typically respond to stimulation ofmore »lower body locations. Although there was only a small subset of SC locations that were excited by acoustic stimulation alone, all SC recording sites could be altered (facilitated or suppressed) with bimodal stimulation. Furthermore, specific regions of the SC could be modulated by stimulating an appropriate body region combined with broadband noise.Significance. These findings show that bimodal stimulation can excite or modulate firing across a widespread yet targeted population of SC neurons. This approach may provide a non-invasive method for altering or disrupting abnormal firing patterns within certain parts of the SC for chronic pain treatment.

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