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Real-time high resolution functional ultrasound imaging of the microvasculature to assess and understand brain function.

English title Real-time high resolution functional ultrasound imaging of the microvasculature to assess and understand brain function.
Applicant Baud Olivier
Number 183397
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Division de Néonatologie et Soins Intensifs Pédiatriques Département de Pédiatrie
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.06.2019 - 31.12.2020
Approved amount 183'090.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Cardiovascular Research

Keywords (6)

Development; Microvasculature; Functional ultrasound imaging; Ultra-high Resolution; Connectivity; Functional brain imaging

Lay Summary (French)

L’imagerie fonctionnelle est un domaine crucial pour évaluer l’activité des cellules au sein d’un organe. L’équipement utilisé dans ce projet permet de visualiser l’anatomie et l’activité tissulaire dans de nombreux organes dont le cerveau.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche 

ICONEUS est un équipement innovant permettant l'évaluation du fonctionnement du cerveau basée sur une technologie par ultrasons ultra-rapides similaire à celle utilisée en recherche clinique. Plusieurs équipes de neuroscience et de pédiatrie travaillant sur le développement normal du cerveau et sur des modèles animaux de maladies du système nerveux central bénéficieront de cet outil unique, disponible actuellement nulle part ailleurs en Suisse. L’acquisition de cet équipement au Département des neurosciences fondamentales de Genève donnera aux scientifiques la possibilité de développer des projets collaboratifs utilisant la même technologie, à la fois dans l’expérimentation préclinique que la recherche clinique. 

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche 

Le projet relève de la recherche préclinique. Pour mieux comprendre la fonction du cerveau ou d’autres organes, cet équipement permettra des avancées significatives en imageant le cerveau grâce à une technologie innovante.


Functional brain imaging, ultrasound, neurovascular coupling, neuronal activity

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 10.12.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


The emergence of functional neuroimaging has dramatically accelerated our under-standing of the brain functioning and human mind, as demonstrated by the advent of fMRI in the past decades. While fMRI has become the "gold standard" for deep brain imaging in humans, its use remains limited for assessing brain function in small living animals partly due to high cost, time-consuming recording in anesthetized animals and complicated post-processing. Recently, the use of ultrasonic plane waves trans-mitted at ultrafast frame rates was shown to highly increase Doppler ultrasound sen-sitivity to blood flows in small vessels in rodents. By identifying large regions of brain activation through neurovascular coupling, Ultrafast Doppler was entering into the world of preclinical functional neuroimaging by (i) imaging microvasculature, usually undetectable using other non invasive techniques, with unprecedented high spatio-temporal resolution and deep penetration, (ii) gathering tissue imaging and dynamic assessment of microvascular perfusion in a single ultrasonic modality, and (iii) provid-ing functional imaging of the brain based on the long-term monitoring of local subtle hemodynamics changes. Using an ultra-light portable ultrasound probe, ICONEUS is expected to bring novel insights in basic and translational neuroscience as it enables real-time, portable whole-brain functional ultrasound imaging in a large variety of subject states including awake, freely moving, resting-state and asleep conditions, compatible with other techniques (EEG, PET, optogenetics, etc...) using a “Plug and Scan” hardware and software, without post-processing. It will serve the Geneva neuroscience community (and affiliates) as an innovative re-search tool, unique in Switzerland, and support a significant numbers of research pro-jects with substantial added-value compared to other brain imaging modalities. The main ongoing or planned projects that will directly benefit from this equipment include the study of the microvasculature development over time in normal fetal development and during fetal growth restriction, the assessment of vascular effect of candidate molecules to protect the developing brain, the study of spontaneous cortical activity in the late mouse embryogenesis, and finally the better knowledge of epileptic activity propagation and neurovascular coupling in epilepsy. We are convinced that the establishment of ICONEUS in Geneva will have high impact both on basic research and translational approaches in brain development, hemody-namics, and neuroprotection.