Functional Connectivity Analysis of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (tVNS) using Magnetoencephalography (MEG)

Author: Charlotte Keatch, Elisabeth Lambert, Tatiana Kameneva, Will Woods
Conference/Journal: IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng
Date published: 2023 Jul 21
Other: Volume ID: PP , Special Notes: doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2023.3297736. , Word Count: 239

Altered brain functional connectivity has been observed in conditions such as schizophrenia, dementia and depression and may represent a target for treatment. Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation that is increasingly used in the treatment of a variety of health conditions. We previously combined tVNS with magnetoencephalography (MEG) and observed that various stimulation frequencies affected different brain areas in healthy individuals. We further investigated whether tVNS had an effect on functional connectivity with a focus on brain regions associated with mood. We compared functional connectivity (whole-head and region of interest) in response to four stimulation frequencies of tVNS using data collected from concurrent MEG and tVNS in 17 healthy participants using Weighted Phase Lag Index (WPLI) to calculate correlation between brain areas. Different frequencies of stimulation lead to changes in functional connectivity across multiple regions, notably areas linked to the default mode network (DMN), salience network (SN) and the central executive network (CEN). It was observed that tVNS delivered at a frequency of 24 Hz was the most effective in increasing functional connectivity between these areas and sub-networks in healthy participants. Our results indicate that tVNS can alter functional connectivity in regions that have been associated with mood and memory disorders. Varying the stimulation frequency led to alterations in different brain areas, which may suggest that personalized stimulation protocols can be developed for the targeted treatment of different medical conditions using tVNS.

PMID: 37478038 DOI: 10.1109/TNSRE.2023.3297736