Effects of Acupuncture on Autonomic Nervous Function and Prefrontal Cortex Activity

  • Kaoru Sakatani
  • Takeshi Kitagawa
  • Naoki Aoyama
  • Mitsuyoshi Sasaki
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 662)


Acupuncture is helpful in treating various diseases, including autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction caused by mental stress. On the other hand, the frontal lobe is suggested to play an important role in stress responses by modulating the ANS. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of acupuncture on ANS and frontal lobe activities. We investigated 18 normal adults. We measured the activity of prefrontal cortex (PFC) caused by real acupuncture (WHO-LI4) and sham acupuncture, employing optical topography. To evaluate ANS function, we analyzed heart rate variability (HRV). Analysis of HRV revealed a decrease of the LF/HF ratio, and an increase of the HF power by real acupuncture, indicating a shift to parasympathetic dominancy. Acupuncture also caused cerebral blood oxygenation changes in both directions, that is, an increase and/or a decrease of oxyhemoglobin (Oxy-Hb) in the bilateral PFC. However, the Oxy-Hb change was not correlated with HRV parameters in the majority of cases. One of the possible explanations of the poor correlations might be that the PFC activity induced by acupuncture is not closely linked with ANS function.


Heart Rate Variability Autonomic Nervous System Mental Stress Near Infrared Spectroscopy Heart Rate Variability Parameter 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaoru Sakatani
    • 1
  • Takeshi Kitagawa
    • 2
  • Naoki Aoyama
    • 2
  • Mitsuyoshi Sasaki
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Optical Brain Engineering, Department of Neurological Surgery; Division of Applied System Neuroscience, Department of Advanced Medical ScienceNihon University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Division of Optical Brain Engineering, Department of Neurological SurgeryNihon University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of NeurophysiologyTokyo Medical UniversityTokyoJapan

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