Central mechanisms of cranial nerve stimulation for epilepsy

Surg Neurol Int. 2012;3(Suppl 4):S247-54. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.103014. Epub 2012 Oct 31.


Stimulation of peripheral cranial nerves has been shown to exert anticonvulsant effects in animal models as well as in human patients. Specifically, stimulation of both the trigeminal and vagus nerves has been shown in multiple clinical trials to be anticonvulsant, and stimulation of these nerves at therapeutic levels does not cause pain or negatively affect brain function. However, the neuronal mechanisms by which such stimulation exerts therapeutic effects are not well understood. In this review, the possible locations of action for trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) are explored. Additionally, the multiple time scales on which TNS and VNS function are discussed.

Keywords: Anticonvulsant mechanisms; epilepsy; trigeminal nerve stimulation; vagus nerve stimulation.