Kristen Sparrow • December 02, 2017
A study out of Germany looking at vagal HRV (High Frequency) and brain connectivity. I like to see these studies showing up in science journals instead of acupuncture journals. We’re getting there.
Recent studies support the view that cortical sensory, limbic and executive networks and the autonomic nervous system might interact in distinct manners under the influence of acupuncture to modulate pain. We performed a double-blind crossover design study to investigate subjective ratings, EEG and ECG following experimental laser pain under the influence of sham and verum acupuncture in 26 healthy volunteers. We analyzed neuronal oscillations and inter-regional coherence in the gamma band of 128-channel-EEG recordings as well as heart rate variability (HRV) on two experimental days. Pain ratings and pain-induced gamma oscillations together with vagally-mediated power in the high-frequency bandwidth (vmHF) of HRV decreased significantly stronger during verum than sham acupuncture. Gamma oscillations were localized in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), mid-cingulate cortex (MCC), primary somatosensory cortex and insula. Reductions of pain ratings and vmHF-power were significantly correlated with increase of connectivity between the insula and MCC. In contrast, connectivity between left and right PFC and between PFC and insula correlated positively with vmHF-power without a relationship to acupuncture analgesia. Overall, these findings highlight the influence of the insula in integrating activity in limbic-saliency networks with vagally mediated homeostatic control to mediate antinociception under the influence of acupuncture.