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Sound Plus Electrical Body Stimulation Has Potential to Treat Chronic Pain - Neuroscience News

Sound Plus Electrical Body Stimulation Has Potential to Treat Chronic Pain - Neuroscience News

Sound Plus Electrical Body Stimulation Has Potential to Treat Chronic Pain - Neuroscience News
Aug 11, 2022 2 mins, 10 secs

Summary: Combining electrical stimulation with sounds that activate the somatosensory cortex could help bring relief to those suffering from chronic pain and other neurological conditions.

A University of Minnesota Twin Cities-led team has found that electrical stimulation of the body combined with sound activates the brain’s somatosensory or “tactile” cortex, increasing the potential for using the technique to treat chronic pain and other sensory disorders.

They found that the combination of the two activated neurons in the brain’s somatosensory cortex, which is responsible for touch and pain sensations throughout the body. .

“Right now, one of the ways that we try to treat pain is opioids, and we all know that doesn’t work out well for many people.

It’s not some expensive medical device that you have to buy in order to treat your pain.

“A lot of people have been using acupuncture or electrical stimulation—non-invasive or invasive—to try to alter brain activity for pain,” said Hubert Lim, senior author on the paper and a professor in the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Otolaryngology.

“It’s odd to think about using sound to treat pain, but if you think about what institutes like the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing or the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health are doing, they’re looking at music therapy and combining other modalities with the traditional methods to be able to enhance healing of these types of conditions,” Lim said.

Source: University of Minnesota.

“Topographic and widespread auditory modulation of the somatosensory cortex: potential for bimodal sound and body stimulation for pain treatment” by Cory Gloeckner et al.

Topographic and widespread auditory modulation of the somatosensory cortex: potential for bimodal sound and body stimulation for pain treatment

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

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


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