Nir is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at Imperial College London and a founding fellow of the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK-DRI). The long-term goal of his research is to develop neuromodulatory interventions for neurodegenerative diseases by direct modulation of the underlying aberrant network activity. Nir received a BSc in Physics from the Israeli Institute of Technology (Technion), an MSc in Electromagnetic Engineering from the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, and a PhD in Neuroscience from Imperial College London. He then completed a postdoc training, as a Wellcome Trust Fellow, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. Nir was recently awarded the prestige prize for Neuromodulation from the Science magazine for describing how temporal interfering of kHz electric fields can non-invasively stimulate focal neural structures deep in the brain.
Electrical brain stimulation is a key technique in research and clinical neuroscience studies, and also is in increasingly widespread use from a therapeutic standpoint. However, to date all methods of electrical stimulation of the brain either require surgery to implant an electrode at a defined site, or involve the application of non-focal electric fields to large fractions of the brain. We report a noninvasive strategy for electrically stimulating neurons at depth. By delivering to the brain multiple electric fields at frequencies too high to recruit neural firing, but which differ by a frequency within the dynamic range of neural firing, we can electrically stimulate neurons throughout a region where interference between the multiple fields results in a prominent electric field envelope modulated at the difference frequency. We validated this temporal interference (TI) concept via modeling and physics experiments, and verified that neurons in the living mouse brain could follow the electric field envelope. We demonstrate the utility of TI stimulation by stimulating neurons in the hippocampus of living mice without recruiting neurons of the overlying cortex. Finally, we show that by altering the currents delivered to a set of immobile electrodes, we can steerably evoke different motor patterns in living mice.