Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Human intracranial recordings reveal distinct cortical activity patterns during invasive and non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation


Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is being used increasingly to treat a wide array of diseases and disorders. This growth is driven in part by the putative ability to stimulate the nerve non-invasively. Despite decades of use and a rapidly expanding application space, we lack a complete understanding of the acute effects of VNS on human cortical neurophysiology. Here, we investigated cortical responses to sub-perceptual threshold cervical implanted (iVNS) and transcutaneous auricular (taVNS) vagus nerve stimulation using intracranial neurophysiological recordings in human epilepsy patients. To understand the areas that are modulated by VNS and how they differ depending on invasiveness and stimulation parameters, we compared VNS-evoked neural activity across a range of stimulation modalities, frequencies, and amplitudes. Using comparable stimulation parameters, both iVNS and taVNS caused subtle changes in low-frequency power across broad cortical networks, which were not the same across modalities and were highly variable across participants. However, within at least some individuals, it may be possible to elicit similar responses across modalities using distinct sets of stimulation parameters. These results demonstrate that both invasive and non-invasive VNS cause evoked changes in activity across a set of highly distributed cortical networks that are relevant to a diverse array of clinical, rehabilitative, and enhancement applications.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View