Kristen Sparrow • March 18, 2023
This study is relevant because of the RAVANs technology that synchronizes TAVNS with expiration. In these authors study they use 100Hz which may nor may not be optimal, just as tragus and cavum concha may not be optimal. But nonetheless, they saw now difference in HRV.
TAVNS is running up against real problems in showing efficacy. I haven’t given up, however. There are many variables, and it may be a case of personalizing patient’s protocols. Trickier yet!
As cardiac vagal control is a hallmark of good health and self-regulatory capacity, researchers are seeking ways to increase vagally mediated heart rate variability (vmHRV) in an accessible and non-invasive way. Findings with transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) have been disappointing in this respect, as its effects on vmHRV are inconsistent at best. It has been speculated that combining taVNS with other established ways to increase vmHRV may produce synergistic effects. To test this idea, the present study combined taVNS with slow breathing in a cross-over design. A total of 22 participants took part in two sessions of breathing at 6 breaths/min: once combined with taVNS, and once combined with sham stimulation. Electrical stimulation (100 Hz, 400 µs) was applied during expiration, either to the tragus and cavum conchae (taVNS) or to the earlobe (sham). ECG was recorded during baseline, 20-minutes of stimulation, and the recovery period. Frequentist and Bayesian analyses showed no effect of taVNS (in comparison to sham stimulation) on the root mean square of successive differences between normal heartbeats, mean inter-beat interval, or spectral power of heart rate variability at a breathing frequency of 0.1 Hz. These findings suggest that expiratory-gated taVNS combined with the stimulation parameters examined here does not produce acute effects on vmHRV during slow breathing.
Keywords: Breathing at 0.1 Hz; Heart rate variability (HRV); Slow breathing; Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS).