Research ArticleCOGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE

Remote, brain region–specific control of choice behavior with ultrasonic waves

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Science Advances  20 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 21, eaaz4193
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz4193

Abstract

The ability to modulate neural activity in specific brain circuits remotely and systematically could revolutionize studies of brain function and treatments of brain disorders. Sound waves of high frequencies (ultrasound) have shown promise in this respect, combining the ability to modulate neuronal activity with sharp spatial focus. Here, we show that the approach can have potent effects on choice behavior. Brief, low-intensity ultrasound pulses delivered noninvasively into specific brain regions of macaque monkeys influenced their decisions regarding which target to choose. The effects were substantial, leading to around a 2:1 bias in choices compared to the default balanced proportion. The effect presence and polarity was controlled by the specific target region. These results represent a critical step towards the ability to influence choice behavior noninvasively, enabling systematic investigations and treatments of brain circuits underlying disorders of choice.

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