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This article is the author's final published version in Brain Stimulation, Volume 16, Issue 4, July 2023, Pages 1135 - 1143.

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Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license ( nc-nd/4.0/).


BACKGROUND: Transcranial ultrasound stimulation (TUS) is a novel non-invasive brain stimulation technique with high depth penetrance and spatial resolution. Theta-burst TUS (tbTUS) is a plasticity-inducing protocol which increases motor cortical excitability for up to 30 min following 80s of sonication. While this protocol may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders, the mechanisms of action of TUS remain unclear.

OBJECTIVE: We conducted the first pharmacological study to examine the mechanisms of TUS in human primary motor cortex. By administering brain-active drugs with known mechanisms of action, we aimed to elucidate the mechanisms of tbTUS.

METHODS: Fourteen healthy subjects participated in a within-subjects randomized, double-blind, cross-over study with five visits. At each visit, one of four study drugs (carbamazepine - Na

RESULTS: The plasticity effects of tbTUS on motor cortex excitability measured by motor-evoked potential amplitudes elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation were reduced by all study drugs compared to placebo.

CONCLUSION: tbTUS may induce NMDA-dependent synaptic plasticity since the effects are blocked by increased GABAA receptor activities and voltage-gated Na+ and Ca2+ channels blockers. These results are consistent with the hypotheses that tbTUS induced long-term potentiation-like mechanisms and that TUS involves activation of mechanosensitive Na+ and Ca2+ channels. Alternatively, non-specific pharmacologically induced changes in excitatory/inhibitory balance might have interfered with the effects of tbTUS.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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