for people ages 18-65 (full criteria)
Healthy Volunteers
healthy people welcome
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Taylor P Kuhn (ucla)



Amygdala is highly involved in emotional response, emotional reactivity and anxiety. Amygdala functions are therefore involved in a wide range of psychiatric disorders including generalized and social anxiety, specific phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Therefore, potential clinical implications of amygdala stimulation are great. However, to date, such efforts have been limited by the inability of non-invasive neuromodulation techniques (e.g. transcranial magnetic stimulation - TMS) to reach the amygdala and the highly invasive (i.e. neurosurgical) nature of methods (e.g. deep brain stimulation - DBS) which can, but to our knowledge has rarely been used, target these areas. In order to overcome these current limitations, study invesitgators propose the use of low intensity focused ultrasound pulsation (LIFUP) to affect amygdala activity to improve emotion regulation.

Official Title

Low Intensity Focused Ultrasound as a Non-Invasive Neural Prosthetic for the Improvement of Emotion Regulation


Study investigators propose the use of personalized neuronavigation, based on each participant's structural brain MRI, to aim LIFUP at the amygdala in the pursuit of enhancement of emotionality in humans. A comprehensive approach will integrate behavioral and multimodal neuroimaging to assess the utility of LIFUP to increase activity in deep neural structures and in the regulation of anxiety. Further, this is the first study to use LIFUP in (A) amygdala in humans and (B) for pro-cognitive effects. Findings from this study will provide important insight into the utility of LIFUP modulation of subcortical regions and their associated networks and functions, which have wide ranging implications for clinical LIFUP as a therapeutic device for numerous patient populations. By characterizing the effect of LIFUP on the amygdala and associated networks, this study will provide the foundation on which LIFUP can be validated as an effective neural prosthetic and as a treatment tools for psychiatric patient populations. Participants will complete a brief T1-weighted structural brain scan. Then, they will be removed from the scanner and, using the T1 image in Neurocare Brainsight software, the LIFUP transducer will be aimed at the amygdala and gently strapped in place to their head. Participants will then return to the scanner where a second T1 image will verify the position of the LIFUP transducer and allow for estimation of the spatial location of the sonification beam focus (approximately .5cm long x 7mm diameter). Blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) will be collected during two conditions: short train sonification LIFUP and sham LIFUP: total time = 20min. Short train LIFUP (previously used in primary sensory cortices47 will be administered in 75 sonifications at 210 Kilohertz (KHz) frequency with pulse repetition frequency of 500 Hertz (Hz), 35mW/cm2, sonification duration 0.5s with 7s inter-stimulation interval. Sham LIFUP will involve the same procedures (e.g. participant provided the same instructions) except the sonification will not occur. Before and after completing the scan and a short break, these participants will receive short train LIFUP while they are administered a series of three computerized, amygdala-mediated emotion reactivity and regulation tasks. Given that routine clinical neuropsychological measures are designed to provide diagnostic information and are not sensitive or specific enough to precisely measure longitudinal emotional change related to an intervention, investigators will use validated experimental neurocognitive measures.


Psychiatric Disorder Anxiety Disorders PTSD Mood Disorders Social Anxiety Cognitive Impairment Ultrasound MRI Emotion Reactivity Reappraisal Cognitive Neural Prosthetic Disease Mental Disorders Problem Behavior Low Intensity Focused Ultrasound Pulsation MRI ultrasound sonication


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-65

  • Must be between 18-65 years of age
  • Must be right handed
  • English must be the dominant language

You CAN'T join if...

  • contraindications for MRI (e.g. metal implants, pregnancy)
  • history of head injury sufficient to warrant medical attention
  • history of alcohol abuse or dependence
  • history of substance abuse or dependence
  • history of major psychiatric illness requiring treatment
  • history of cancer or other neoplastic syndromes
  • history of major neurologic illness (e.g. epilepsy).


  • University of California, Los Angeles accepting new patients
    Los Angeles California 90095 United States

Lead Scientist at University of California Health


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, Los Angeles
Study Type
Expecting 50 study participants
Last Updated