The vagus nerve is strategically located in the body, and has multiple homeostatic and health-promoting effects. Low vagal activity predicts onset and progression of diseases. These are the reasons to activate this nerve. This study examined the effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (t-VNS) on a main index of vagal activity, namely heart rate variability (HRV). In Study 1, we compared short (10 min) left versus right ear t-VNS versus sham (no stimulation) in a within-subjects experimental design. Results revealed significant increases in only one HRV parameter (standard deviation of the RR intervals (SDNN)) following right-ear t-VNS. Study 2 examined the prolonged effects of t-VNS (1 h) in the right ear. Compared to baseline, right-t-VNS significantly increased the LF and LF/HF components of HRV, and SDNN in women, but not in men. These results show limited effects of t-VNS on HRV, and are discussed in light of neuroanatomical and statistical considerations and future directions are proposed.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.
- Acute effect
- Heart rate variability
- Prolonged effects
- Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation
- Vagus nerve
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience