The Effect of Transcutaneous Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) on P3 Event-Related Potentials during a Bayesian Oddball Task.

Transcutaneous auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique associated with possible modulation of norepinephrinergic (NE) activity. NE is suspected to contribute to generation of the P3 event-related potential. Recent evidence has produced equivocal evidence whether taVNS influences the P3 in healthy individuals during oddball tasks. We examined the effect of taVNS on P3 amplitudes using a novel visual Bayesian oddball task, which presented 200 sequences of three stimuli. The three consecutive stimuli in each sequence are labelled Draw 1, Draw 2 and Draw 3. In total, 47 Subjects completed this visual Bayesian oddball task under randomised sham and active taVNS stimulation in parallel with an electroencephalographic (EEG) recording. We conducted exploratory analyses of the effect of taVNS on P3 amplitudes separately for Draws. We found typical oddball effects on P3 amplitudes at Draws 1 and 2, but not Draw 3. At Draw 2, the oddball effect was enhanced during active compared to sham taVNS stimulation. These data provide evidence that taVNS influences parietal P3 amplitudes under specific circumstances. Only P3 amplitudes at Draw 2 were affected, which may relate to closure of Bayesian inference after Draw 2. Our findings seemingly support previously reported links between taVNS and the NE system.


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