Electrophysiological studies of cervical vagus nerve stimulation in humans: I. EEG effects.
Evidence from studies of experimental animals indicates that electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve alters EEGs under certain stimulus parameters. We report EEG effects of electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve in 9 patients with medically intractable seizures as part of a clinical trial of chronic vagal stimulation for control of epilepsy. The mechanism of action of the vagal antiepileptic effect is unknown, and we believed that analysis of electrophysiologic effects of vagal nerve stimulation would help elucidate the brain areas affected. The left vagus nerve in the neck was stimulated with a programmable implanted stimulator. Stimulation at various stimulus frequencies and amplitudes had no noticeable effect on EEG activity whether the patient was under general anesthesia, awake, or asleep, but vagus nerve stimulation may interrupt ongoing ictal EEG activity.