Welcome to Sonogenetics

What is Sonogenetics?

Ultrasound is ideally suited for noninvasive manipulation as it can focus easily through the skin and thin bone. Also, sound can travel quickly (1500 m/s in water) and a well-designed transducer-amplifier-waveform generator can generate stimulus pulses of varying duration (10 milliseconds) and at high frequencies.

We have demonstrated the efficacy of the “sonogenetic” method in the nematode, C. elegans. We discovered that the pore-forming subunit of a mechanotransduction channel (TRP-4) increases the concentration of calcium ions within the target cells in response to ultrasound stimulus. Increasing calcium ions can activate neurons and contract muscles, and perhaps even alter immune cells or other cell populations.

We predict that it will be possible to identify other channels and variants with altered thresholds, kinetics and ion permeabilities to specific ultrasound intensities. The noninvasive nature of this approach is ideally suited to control the function of target neurons and non-neuronal cells deep within animals and plants.

Research Updates

Review on Sonogenetics

As we continue to unravel the language of the brain, it becomes evident that precise firing patterns of different cell types in appropriate brain regions must work in concert to orchestrate the symphony of the mind.

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Recent Publications

Sonogenetics is a non-invasive approach to activating neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans

A major challenge in neuroscience is to reliably activate individual neurons, particularly those in deeper brain regions.

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C. elegans

  1. TRP-4 channel sequence
  2. Microbubbles


A basic instrumentation setup to perform sonogenetic experiments will require the following (through many varieties and individual requirements may differ):

  1. Arbitrary waveform generator
    1. E.g. Keysight Technologies, 2 channel, 80 MHz
  2. RF amplifier
    1. E.g. Vox Technologies, class AB ultrasonic amplifier
  3. Transducer
    1. E.g. Olympus, 2.25 MHz
  4. BCN cables/UHF connectors


In order to realize the complete potential of sonogenetics, we have strategically identified individuals, labs and companies that offer technical expertise in various scientific fields. We have established collaborations with key individuals in the fields of materials engineering, transducer design, ion channel biophysics, molecular engineering and neuroscience. We welcome fresh ideas to foster new partnerships that aim to advance sonogenetics for the scientific and clinical community.

Contact Us


The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
10010 N Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037-1002
Salk Main: (858) 453-4100