Kristen Sparrow • December 12, 2022
These authors make the case that TAVNS, transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulation, should be used in the aging population to help combat neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. Keep in mind, that acupuncture also typically enhances parasympathetic activity. The advantage of TAVNS, and why I have been exploring it in the clinic (and with brave souls who use it at home) is because it can be a home based treatment.
“Impaired cognition is associated with impaired autonomic function, specifically impaired parasympathetic measures of heart rate variability (HRV) (Forte et al., 2019; Cheng et al., 2022; Liu et al., 2022) likely reflective of the complex interplay between cognition and cardiac modulation, via the central autonomic network.”
Dolphin H, Dukelow T, Finucane C, Commins S, McElwaine P, Kennelly SP. “The Wandering Nerve Linking Heart and Mind” – The Complementary Role of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation in Modulating Neuro-Cardiovascular and Cognitive Performance. Front Neurosci. 2022 Jun 16;16:897303. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2022.897303. PMID: 35784842; PMCID: PMC9245542.
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, providing afferent information about visceral sensation, integrity and somatic sensations to the CNS via brainstem nuclei to subcortical and cortical structures. Its efferent arm influences GI motility and secretion, cardiac ionotropy, chonotropy and heart rate variability, blood pressure responses, bronchoconstriction and modulates gag and cough responses via palatine and pharyngeal innervation. Vagus nerve stimulation has been utilized as a successful treatment for intractable epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression, and new non-invasive transcutaneous (t-VNS) devices offer equivalent therapeutic potential as invasive devices without the surgical risks. t-VNS offers exciting potential as a therapeutic intervention in cognitive decline and aging populations, classically affected by reduced cerebral perfusion by modulating both limbic and frontal cortical structures, regulating cerebral perfusion and improving parasympathetic modulation of the cardiovascular system. In this narrative review we summarize the research to date investigating the cognitive effects of VNS therapy, and its effects on neurocardiovascular stability.Keywords: vagus nerve stimulation, cognition, neurocardiovascular control, cerebral blood flow, LC-NE system, inhibitory control, executive function
Impaired cognition is associated with impaired autonomic function, specifically impaired parasympathetic measures of heart rate variability (HRV) (Forte et al., 2019; Cheng et al., 2022; Liu et al., 2022) likely reflective of the complex interplay between cognition and cardiac modulation, via the central autonomic network.