Neuromodulation is an increasingly accepted treatment for neurological and psychiatric disorders but is limited by its invasiveness or its inability to target deep brain structures using noninvasive techniques. We propose a new concept called Multimodal Synchronization Therapy (mSync) for achieving targeted activation of the brain via noninvasive and precisely timed activation of auditory, visual, somatosensory, motor, cognitive, and limbic pathways. In this initial study in guinea pigs, we investigated mSync using combined activation of just the auditory and somatosensory pathways, which induced differential and timing dependent plasticity in neural firing within deep brain and cortical regions of the auditory system. Furthermore, by varying the location of somatosensory stimulation across the body, we increased or decreased spiking activity across different neurons. These encouraging results demonstrate the feasibility of systematically modulating the brain using mSync. Considering that hearing disorders such as tinnitus and hyperacusis have been linked to abnormal and hyperactive firing patterns within the auditory system, these results open up the possibility for using mSync to decrease this pathological activity by varying stimulation parameters. Incorporating multiple types of pathways beyond just auditory and somatosensory inputs and using other activation patterns may enable treatment of various brain disorders.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health (R03DC011589), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (UL1TR000114), National Science Foundation (IGERT DGE1069104), University of Minnesota Frieda Martha Kunze Fellowship, Lions Multiple District 5M Hearing Foundation of Minnesota, and start-up funds from the University of Minnesota (Institute for Translational Neuroscience and the College of Science and Engineering).