The vagus nerve: pathway to the limbic system1
Studies have shown that vagus nerve stimulation affects serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters and brain structures thought to be involved in mood regulation.2,3
Preliminary imaging studies suggest that VNS Therapy affects many areas of the brain implicated in mood regulation.
Positron emission tomography.
Data acquired St. Louis University, analyzed at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Center for Advanced Imaging Research (CAIR) by Xingbao Li, MD; 6 patients for 3 months of VNS Therapy compared with baseline.
P<.05 for display, no significant decreases.
Activation of the left vagus nerve has been shown to induce widespread bilateral effects in the areas of the brain implicated in depression, including in the inferior temporal structures (amygdala) and the prefrontal cortex.5
To learn more about the unique mechanism of action of VNS Therapy for TRD, watch this brief video below.
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Hear from a physician
"The device delivers very mild intermittent brief electrical pulses to the left vagus nerve.
"The pulses that are delivered to the left vagus nerve are transmitted to the central nervous system, and they go to specific areas in the central nervous system that control mood, motivation, sleep, appetite, and other symptoms that are relevant to depression."
—Dr. A. John Rush, Vice Chair, Department of Clinical Sciences Professor, Department of Psychiatry University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
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1. George MS, Sackeim HA, Marangell LB, et al. Vagus nerve stimulation. A potential therapy for resistant depression? Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2000 23:757-83.
2. George MS, Nahas Z Bohning D, et al. Vagus nerve stimulation: a new form of therapeutic brain stimulation. CNS Spectrums. 2000;5:2-11.
3. Rush AJ, Marangell LB, Sackeim HA, et al. Vagus nerve stimulation for treatment-resistant depression: a randomized, controlled acute phase trial. Biol Psychiatry. 2005;58:347-354.
4. Chae JH, Nahas Z, Lomarev M, et al. A review of functional neuroimaging studies of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). J Psych Res. 2003;37:443-455.
5. George MS, Sackeim HA, Marangell LB, et al. Vagus nerve stimulation. A potential therapy for resistant depression? Psychiatr Clin North Am. 757-783:23; 2000.