Vagus Nerve Stimulation Modulates Phase-Amplitude Coupling in Thalamic Local Field Potentials

Neuromodulation. 2023 Apr;26(3):601-606. doi: 10.1016/j.neurom.2022.05.001. Epub 2022 Jul 13.


Objective: The antiseizure effects of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) are thought to be mediated by the modulation of afferent thalamocortical circuitry. Cross-frequency phase-amplitude coupling (PAC) is a mechanism of hierarchical network coordination across multiple spatiotemporal scales. In this study, we leverage local field potential (LFP) recordings from the centromedian (CM) (n = 3) and anterior (ATN) (n = 2) nuclei in five patients with tandem thalamic deep brain stimulation and VNS to study neurophysiological changes in the thalamus in response to VNS.

Materials and methods: Bipolar LFP data were recorded from contact pairs spanning target nuclei in VNS "on" and "off" states.

Results: Active VNS was associated with increased PAC between theta, alpha, and beta phase and gamma amplitude in CM (q < 0.05). Within the ATN, PAC changes also were observed, although these were less robust. In both nuclei, active VNS also modulated interhemispheric bithalamic functional connectivity.

Conclusions: We report that VNS is associated with enhanced PAC and coordinated interhemispheric interactions within and between thalamic nuclei, respectively. These findings advance understanding of putative neurophysiological effects of acute VNS and contextualize previous animal and human studies showing distributed cortical synchronization after VNS.

Keywords: Anterior thalamic nucleus; centromedian nucleus; deep brain stimulation; epilepsy circuitry; vagal nerve stimulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Thalamus
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation*