Author: Aldo Sommer1, Rico Fischer2, Uirassu Borges3, Sylvain Laborde4, Silvia Achtzehn5, Roman Liepelt6
1 University of Hagen (FernUniversität in Hagen), Hagen, Germany; Department of Exercise Physiology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany. Electronic address: email@example.com.
2 Department of Psychology, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany.
3 Institute of Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
4 Institute of Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany; Normandie Université, UFR STAPS, EA 4260 CESAMS, Caen, France.
5 Institute of Cardiology and Sport Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
6 University of Hagen (FernUniversität in Hagen), Hagen, Germany.
Date published: 2023 Jun 7
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2023.108614. , Word Count: 204
Current research in brain stimulation suggests transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) as a promising tool to modulate cognitive functions in healthy populations, such as attention, memory, and executive functions. Empirical evidence in single task contexts, suggests that taVNS promotes holistic task processing, which strengthens the integration of multiple stimulus features in task processing. However, it is unclear how taVNS might affect performance in multitasking, where the integration of multiple stimuli leads to an overlap in stimulus response translation processes, increasing the risk of between-task interference (crosstalk). In a single-blinded, sham-controlled, within-subject design, participants underwent taVNS while performing a dual task. To assess the effects of taVNS, behavioral (reaction times), physiological (heart-rate variability, salivary alpha-amylase), and subjective psychological variables (e.g., arousal) were recorded over three cognitive test blocks. Our results revealed no overall significant effect of taVNS on physiological and subjective psychological variables. However, the results showed a significant increase in between-task interference under taVNS in the first test block, but not in the subsequent test blocks. Our findings therefore suggest that taVNS increased integrative processing of both tasks early during active stimulation.
Keywords: Alpha amylase; Cardiac vagal activity; Dual task; Heart rate variability; Norepinephrine; Task integration; backward crosstalk.
PMID: 37295553 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2023.108614