Mechanical Way to Stimulate Neurons

In addition to responding to electrical and chemical stimuli, many of the body’s neural cells can also respond to mechanical effects, such as pressure or vibration. But these responses have been more difficult for researchers to study, because there has been no easily controllable method for inducing such mechanical stimulation of the cells. Now, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have found a new method for doing just that.

The finding might offer a step toward new kinds of therapeutic treatments, similar to electrically based neurostimulation that has been used to treat Parkinson’s disease and other conditions. Unlike those systems, which require an external wire connection, the new system would be completely contact-free after an initial injection of particles, and could be reactivated at will through an externally applied magnetic field.

The finding is reported in the journal ACS Nano, in a paper by former MIT postdoc Danijela Gregurec, Alexander Senko PhD ’19, Associate Professor Polina Anikeeva, and nine others at MIT, at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and in Spain.

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Danijela Gregurec
Assistant Professor at Friedrich Alexander University
Alexander W Senko
Data scientist at Livongo
Pooja Reddy
PhD student at Stanford MSE
Dekel Rosenfeld
Dekel Rosenfeld
Postdoctoral Associate

Postocotoral associate, focusing on organ modulation such as on demand control of hormone release from adrenal glands and investigation of the gut-to-brain axis.

Pohan Chiang
Assistant Professor at National Chiao Tung University
Francisco Garcia
PhD student at MIT BCS
Georgios Varnavides
Georgios Varnavides
Graduate Student

Full-time graduate student | Part-time design enthusiast | Aspiring cat herder.

Polina Anikeeva
Polina Anikeeva
Associate Professor in Materials Science and Engineering
Associate Professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Associate Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics

My goal is to combine the current knowledge of biology and nanoelectronics to develop materials and devices for minimally invasive treatments for neurological and neuromuscular diseases.