Promising New Therapy for Autism: Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently published an article in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. The article is titled, “Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation: A Promising Method for treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
What is transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS)?
Also called "Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)," this is a technique where an electrical current is applied to the vagus nerve - a nerve that runs between the brain and many areas of the body, including the heart, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. The vagus nerve has important physical and emotional effects in the body and helps the body to achieve a balance between states of stress (“fight or flight”) and states of relaxation (“rest and digest”). Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve can be done either through an implanted device or through an external device applied to the skin. Vagus nerve stimulation is an FDA-approved treatment for seizures. Research studies also support vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment for depression.
Can tVNS help in Autism?
In several research studies, children with autism who were treated with tVNS showed improvement in cognitive function, behavior, and seizure frequency. The authors of this article summarize the research evidence that suggests tVNS is a safe and promising treatment for Autism. Give us a call to learn more about tVNS therapy at Cortica.