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Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (tVNS) Improves High-Confidence Recognition Memory but Not Emotional Word Processing

  • Previous clinical research found that invasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) enhanced word recognition memory in epileptic patients, an effect assumed to be related to the activation of brainstem arousal systems. In this study, we applied non-invasive transcutaneous auricular VNS (tVNS) to replicate and extend the previous work. Using a single-blind, randomized, between-subject design, 60 healthy volunteers received active or sham stimulation during a lexical decision task, in which emotional and neutral stimuli were classified as words or non-words. In a subsequent recognition memory task (1 day after stimulation), participants' memory performance on these words and their subjective memory confidence were tested. Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) levels, a putative indirect measure of central noradrenergic activation, were also measured before and after stimulation. During encoding, pleasant words were more accurately detected than neutral and unpleasant words. However, no tVNS effects were observed on task performance or on overall sAAPrevious clinical research found that invasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) enhanced word recognition memory in epileptic patients, an effect assumed to be related to the activation of brainstem arousal systems. In this study, we applied non-invasive transcutaneous auricular VNS (tVNS) to replicate and extend the previous work. Using a single-blind, randomized, between-subject design, 60 healthy volunteers received active or sham stimulation during a lexical decision task, in which emotional and neutral stimuli were classified as words or non-words. In a subsequent recognition memory task (1 day after stimulation), participants' memory performance on these words and their subjective memory confidence were tested. Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) levels, a putative indirect measure of central noradrenergic activation, were also measured before and after stimulation. During encoding, pleasant words were more accurately detected than neutral and unpleasant words. However, no tVNS effects were observed on task performance or on overall sAA level changes. tVNS also did not modulate overall recognition memory, which was particularly enhanced for pleasant emotional words. However, when hit rates were split based on confidence ratings reflecting familiarity- and recollection-based memory, higher recollection-based memory performance (irrespective of emotional category) was observed during active stimulation than during sham stimulation. To summarize, we replicated prior findings of enhanced processing and memory for emotional (pleasant) words. Whereas tVNS showed no effects on word processing, subtle effects on recollection-based memory performance emerged, which may indicate that tVNS facilitates hippocampus-mediated consolidation processes.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Manon Giraudier, Carlos Ventura-BortORCiD, Mathias WeymarORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01276
ISSN:1664-1078
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in Psychology
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication:Lausanne
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Date of first Publication:2020/03/10
Year of Completion:2020
Release Date:2020/08/11
Tag:confidence; emotion; episodic memory; recognition; recollection; salivary alpha-amylase; transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation; words
Volume:11
Page Number:13
Funder:Universität Potsdam
Grant Number:PA 2020_056
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert
Grantor:Publikationsfonds der Universität Potsdam
Publication Way:Open Access / Gold Open-Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung, 4.0 International
Notes extern:Zweitveröffentlichung in der Schriftenreihe Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe ; 649