Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator


The Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS™; version 2.1 shown above at left with the bottom electrode array at right) device delivers gentle and comfortable electrical stimulation to the top surface of the tongue. The PoNS device is used in conjunction with therapy exercises as part of TCNL's research program. The TCNL scientists are interested in determining the conditions under which such tongue stimulation may enhance the effectiveness of the exercises in reducing symptoms of neurological disorders. 

Present research using the PoNS device (including studies recruiting volunteer subjects) studies are listed on the Projects page. 

The PoNS device is investigational and not available for medical treatment. 

The technical details

The version 2 PoNS™ device delivers 19-V positive pulses to the top surface of the tongue. The unbalanced biphasic waveform is specifically designed to ensure zero net dc to minimize the potential for tissue irritation. The system delivers triplets of 0.4-60 µs-wide pulses at 5 ms intervals (i.e. 200 Hz) every 20 ms (50 Hz) to a 143-electrode array of gold-plated circular electrodes (1.50 mm diam., on 2.34 mm centers) created by a photolithographic process used to make printed circuit boards. The voltage and pulse timing to each electrode is programmed in the device and cannot be altered. In some PoNS versions the subject can adjust the stimulus intensity by manipulating a pair of intensity buttons. In other versions the intensity is fixed at the discretion of the study director. At any instant in time, one of the 16 electrodes in each of the 9 sectors on the array is delivering stimulation. The remaining electrodes serve as the current return path to ground.

While the electrical stimulation delivered by the PoNS device is similar to that delivered by the Tongue Display Unit (TDU; also developed at TCNL) the PoNS stimulation is not programmable except for stimulation level.  

Our Research

Founded in 1992, the Tactile Com­mu­nication & Neurorehabilitation Laboratory (TCNL) is located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We are a research center that uses the experience of many different areas of science to study the theory and application of applied neuro­plasticity, the brain’s ability to re­or­ganize in response to new informa­tion, needs, and pathways.

Our research is aimed at developing solutions for sensory and motor disorder rehabilitation.