Solenoidal micromagnetic stimulation enables activation of axons with specific orientation

Laleh Golestani Rad, John T. Gale, Nauman F. Manzoor, Hyun Joo Park, Lyall Glait, Frederick Haer, James A. Kaltenbach, Giorgio Bonmassar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Electrical stimulation of the central and peripheral nervous systems - such as deep brain stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, and epidural cortical stimulation are common therapeutic options increasingly used to treat a large variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions. Despite their remarkable success, there are limitations which if overcome, could enhance outcomes and potentially reduce common side-effects. Micromagnetic stimulation (μMS) was introduced to address some of these limitations. One of the most remarkable properties is that μMS is theoretically capable of activating neurons with specific axonal orientations. Here, we used computational electromagnetic models of the μMS coils adjacent to neuronal tissue combined with axon cable models to investigate μMS orientation-specific properties. We found a 20-fold reduction in the stimulation threshold of the preferred axonal orientation compared to the orthogonal direction. We also studied the directional specificity of μMS coils by recording the responses evoked in the inferior colliculus of rodents when a pulsed magnetic stimulus was applied to the surface of the dorsal cochlear nucleus. The results confirmed that the neuronal responses were highly sensitive to changes in the μMS coil orientation. Accordingly, our results suggest that μMS has the potential of stimulating target nuclei in the brain without affecting the surrounding white matter tracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number724
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - Jul 27 2018


  • Eddy currents
  • Finite element method
  • Inductive stimulation
  • Microcoils
  • Neurostimulation
  • Numerical modeling
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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