Joint Research Chair

Neuromodulation and Neurosurgery

Neuromodulation 〜 the regeneration of brain functions
  • Technological innovation 〜 development of the world’s first transcranial magnetic stimulation device for home use
  • Multidisciplinary research 〜 medical device development and application through university-industry and medicine-engineering collaborations
  • Elucidation of neural circuitry using brain functional imaging
  • Efficacy of transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy 〜 development of novel non-pharmacological therapy for intractable neurological diseases
  • Integration with basic research 〜 neuromodulation treatment focusing on plasticity of brain functions

Development of noninvasive brain stimulation device and practical application of innovative neuromodulation therapy

In the brain, complex neural networks exist and high-order functions are generated by the transmission of electrical signals between neurons. In recent years, it has become clear that various neurological and mental disorders, including chronic pain and dementia, are related to disorders of the neural networks. Neuron is difficult to recover once impaired, but restoration of the neural networks may lead to the recovery of brain functions. One of the methods is by neuromodulation, such as brain stimulation therapy. Conventional brain stimulation therapies require surgical operations, however in recent years, non-invasive brain stimulation methods such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) have been invented as an alternative treatment method. rTMS is expected to be effective for the treatment of chronic pain, motor impairment after stroke, Parkinson’s disease, depression and other neurological disorders, and it is hoped that it can be applied in clinical practice when no other therapeutic options are available.

Figure 1

Our laboratory aims to develop a brain stimulation therapy which is suitable for daily or weekly use and can be conveniently performed both at home and the clinic. The ultimate aim is to pioneer a home-use rTMS therapy system and to conduct research on its therapeutic applications via multidisciplinary collaborations with companies, engineering laboratories, and off-campus laboratories.

Figure 2

Our laboratory has reported the effectiveness and safety of rTMS for intractable neuropathic pain, motor impairment after stroke and Parkinson’s disease. In 2015, we have begun clinical trials of rTMS therapy in patients with intractable neuropathic pain. In this trial, Osaka University and other institutions are jointly aiming to verify the effectiveness and safety of daily cortical stimulation by rTMS. Moreover, we analyzed MRI and magnetoencephalography data to elucidate the neural networks of chronic pain patients and to discover new biomarkers (pathological condition index) in order to gain better understanding of the mechanism of pain. We are also conducting research on novel therapy by applying decoded neuro-feedback to interpret brain signals and to modify brain functions. Our research extends from the elucidation of disease pathology to the discovery of new biomarkers and development of new therapies. From basic research to practical applications, we are working in collaboration with various industries and organizations.