Exploration of the Impact of Brief Noninvasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation on EEG and Event-Related Potentials.

Author: Lewine JD1,2,3, Paulson K1, Bangera N1, Simon BJ4
Author Information:
1The Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, NM, USA.
2The Lovelace Family of Companies, Albuquerque, NM, USA.
3The Department of Neurology and the Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA.
4electroCore LLC, Basking Ridge, NJ, USA.
Conference/Journal: Neuromodulation.
Date published: 2018 Oct 4
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1111/ner.12864. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 265

OBJECTIVES: The primary objective of this study was to explore the impact of noninvasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation (nVNS) on brain electrophysiology, as assessed through spontaneous resting-state EEG and stimulus-driven event-related potentials (ERPs).

METHODS: A hand-held transcutaneous stimulator was placed on the neck over the main branch of the left vagus (active condition) or more laterally over neck muscles (sham condition), with two 120-sec long bursts of stimulation applied over a five-minute period. For each of eight neurotypical subjects, prior to stimulation, and then again beginning at 15, 120, and 240 min post-stimulation, ten minutes of background EEG data were collected, along with a series of ERPs-N100 auditory sensory-gating; the N1/P2 loudness dependent auditory evoked responses (LDAER); mismatch negativity; P300a; and P300b. Each subject participated in active and sham stimulation sessions.

RESULTS: Brief nVNS had a significant (p < 0.05), and in some cases prolonged (>2 hours), impact on the spontaneous EEG (decreased theta and alpha, and increased beta and gamma), and on sensory gating, LDAER, and P300b evoked responses. Based on prior literature, these specific observations may reflect nVNS-induced modulation of particular neurotransmitter systems including those for GABA (gamma power and frequency); acetylcholine (sensory gating); serotonin (LDAER); and noradrenaline (P300b).

CONCLUSIONS: Brief nVNS leads to changes in a sub-set of resting-state and event-related electrophysiologic indices of brain activity. These changes are believed to be mediated by vagal afferent projections to the nucleus of the solitary tract, which in turn regulates several neurotransmitter systems through known direct and indirect neuroanatomic pathways.

© 2018 International Neuromodulation Society.

KEYWORDS: EEG; evoked responses; neurochemistry; vagal nerve stimulation

PMID: 30288866 DOI: 10.1111/ner.12864