Concerning Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation: Occult Neural Networks.

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Concerning Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation: Occult Neural Networks.

Front Hum Neurosci. 2019;13:421

Authors: Cakmak YO

Abstract
Auricular vagal nerve stimulation (AVNS) is an evolving neuromodulation technology that has a wide range of therapeutic applications across multiple disciplines of medical science. To date, AVNS results had been interpreted in the context of a monolog concept of the auricular branch of the vagus nerve (ABVN): that this is the sole network of the mechanism of action and/or structure in the auricular area of the stimulation in the context of activations in the brainstem nuclei, including the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), locus coeruleus (LC), trigeminal brainstem nuclei, and the nucleus cuneatus. This review considers the overlooked aspects of neural networks, connections, hijacking axons from cranial nerves and cervical sympathetic ganglions, the inhomogeneous distribution of perivascular sympathetic nerves, and intrinsic/extrinsic auricular muscles in the auricular zone that can explain the vagal and non-vagal nucleus activations in AVNS. In addition, the unique cortical representation of the human ear and interspecies differences in the auricula are discussed. The detailed auricular anatomy of the AVNS zone explored in the present study references structural and functional neural network information to overcome default designs and misinterpretations of existing research on AVNS to provide a better foundation for future investigations that use this modality.

PMID: 31920585 [PubMed]

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