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Front Neuroeng. 2011 Sep 28;4:9. doi: 10.3389/fneng.2011.00009. eCollection 2011.

Modified pulse shapes for effective neural stimulation.

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Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine - Neuromodulation (INM-7), Forschungszentrum Jülich Jülich, Germany.


The electrical stimulation of neuronal structures is used as a treatment for many neurological disorders, e.g., for the treatment of Parkinson's disease via deep brain stimulation (DBS). To reduce side effects, to avoid tissue or electrode damage, and to increase battery lifetimes, an effective but gentle electrical stimulation is of prime importance. We studied different modified pulse shapes for application in DBS with respect to their efficiency to initiate neuronal activity. Numerical simulations of two mathematical neuron models were performed to investigate the effectiveness of different modified pulse shapes. According to our results, the pulse shapes considered showed a considerably increased efficiency in terms of both activation and entrainment of neural activity. We found that the introduction of a gap with a specific and optimized duration in a biphasic pulse and the reversal of the standard pulse phase order yielded stimulation protocols that could increase the efficiency and therefore reduce the energy consumption of stimulation. The improvements were achieved by simple modifications of existing stimulation techniques. The modification of the pulse shapes resulted in an improvement of up to 50% for both the activation of resting neurons and the entrainment of bursting neurons.


computational neuroscience; deep brain stimulation; entrainment; pulsatile stimulation

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