Behavioral and functional assessment of ultrasound neuromodulation on Caenorhabditis elegans

Quanxiang Xian, Zhihai Qiu, Shashwati Kala, Kin Fung Wong, Jinghui Guo, Lei Sun

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Ultrasound brain stimulation is a promising modality for probing brain function and treating brain diseases. However, its mechanism is as yet unclear, and in vivo effects are not well-understood. Here, we present a top-down strategy for assessing ultrasound bioeffects in vivo, using Caenorhabditis elegans. Behavioral and functional changes of single worms and of large populations upon ultrasound stimulation were studied. Worms were observed to significantly increase their average speed upon ultrasound stimulation, adapting to it upon continued treatment. Worms also generated more reversal turns when ultrasound was ON, and within a minute post-stimulation, they performed significantly more reversal and omega turns than prior to ultrasound. In addition, in vivo calcium imaging showed that the neural activity in the worms' heads and tails was increased significantly by ultrasound stimulation. In all, we conclude that ultrasound can directly activate the neurons of worms in vivo, in both of their major neuronal ganglia, and modify their behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9350291
Pages (from-to)2150-2154
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • calcium imaging
  • ultrasound neural stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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