Does Interferential Stimulation allow stimulation of deep brain without surgery?

A recent article in the journal Cell, suggested Interferential Stimulation with electrodes on the scalp can activate the hippocampus.

From the Boyden lab at MIT comes a new study titled “Noninvasive Deep Brain Stimulation via Temporally Interfering Electric Fields”, which suggests that using electrodes on the surface of the head can actually stimulate deeper brain structures, and not just the closer cortex. If true, this finding could have massive implications on the future of brain stimulation, since it would mean you wouldn’t need invasive procedures such as surgical Deep Brain Stimulation in order to stimulate deeper parts of the brain. Imagine, instead of going to a surgeon to get electrodes invasively stuck into your brain, you could simply get a brain stimulation cap and stimulate your hippocampus from the comfort of your own home!

Unfortunately, the paper from MIT only used animals in their study, so whether this procedure can work in humans remains to be seen—and could depend on some additional assumptions. This fact, however, has not slowed the buzz across the press about the “Holy Grail” of brain stimulation and the social media science sphere.

Surprisingly, the idea of Interferential stimulation is not a new idea in the field brain stimulation research—as evident from a tweet from a Dr. Lucas Parra—another big name in the field of neural engineering :

In fact, if you are a researcher interested in trying out interferential stimulation for yourself, Soterix Medical holds the only laboratory grade interferential stimulator on the market! While Interferential stimulation has been around, this new discovery and it’s implications will certainly be debated and explored with lots of interest. Watch this space closely, we might just be witnessing another major breakthrough in the field of neuroscience!


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