Far field potentials from brain stem after transcutaneous Vagus nerve stimulation: optimization of stimulation and recording parameters
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- Polak, T., Markulin, F., Ehlis, AC. et al. J Neural Transm (2009) 116: 1237. doi:10.1007/s00702-009-0282-1
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The method of vagus somatosensory evoked potentials (VSEP) was introduced to easily measure the activity of vagus brain stem nuclei. In Alzheimer’s disease, this measure was characterized by longer latencies as compared to controls while amplitudes did not show statistical significant differences at frontal and central recording sites. Therefore, the influence of stimulation and recording parameters on amplitudes of VSEP were systematically examined. In 20 healthy participants, VSEP measurement was done by electrical stimulation of the cutaneous representation of the vagus nerve in the external auditory channel and recording of VSEP over the scalp. The optimum stimulation intensity is 8 mA without perception of pain. There is no effect of stimulation side or gender. Maximum VSEP amplitudes are detected at bipolar recordings comprising the electrode T4 without statistically significant differences of latencies, wave shape and polarity. Thus, recordings of future examinations should be performed at 8 mA including this temporal electrode position. The reason for focussing on brain stem evoked potentials is that recent work has accumulated evidence for this area being involved in early phases of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Improved methodological knowledge may facilitate the assessment of this non-invasive and cost-effective method in the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders.