Movement Recovery Lab's transcutaneous cervical vagus nerve stimulation study published in Scientific Reports

February 27, 2024

Studies in animal models have shown that continuous vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) can rapidly improve the brain's ability to process sensory information. Published this week in Scientific Reports, a new study by the Movement Recovery Lab's Jason B. Carmel, MD, PhD, and colleagues explored the potential of non-invasive VNS to boost sensory functions in humans. Here, Jigo et al. conducted three sham-controlled experiments, each with 12 healthy adults, to assess how VNS applied to the neck (cervical VNS) or the ear (auricular VNS) influences auditory and visual perception, as well as heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of vagus nerve engagement. Cervical VNS led to a 37% improvement in the ability to differentiate between sounds and a 23% improvement in visual letter recognition, as well as an increase in HRV during passive activities. Conversely, auricular VNS did not show a notable improvement in sensory functions.

These outcomes suggest that non-invasive VNS could be an effective method for immediately improving hearing and vision, especially in those with diminished sensory abilities. This study effectively narrows the gap between animal studies and human application, offering hopeful prospects for developing new treatments for sensory impairments.


Transcutaneous cervical vagus nerve stimulation improves sensory performance in humans: a randomized controlled crossover pilot study. 

Jigo M, Carmel JB, Wang Q, Rodenkirch C.

Sci Rep. 2024 Feb 17;14(1):3975. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-54026-8.

PMID: 38368486 Free PMC article.Clinical Trial.