The influence of vagus nerve stimulation on memory

Georges A. Ghacibeh, Joel I. Shenker, Brian Shenal, Basim M. Uthman, Kenneth M. Heilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has been shown to improve memory. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to learn at which stage of memory formation this influence occurs. METHODS: Ten subjects who had been implanted with vagus nerve stimulators for the treatment of intractable seizures performed tasks that assessed learning and retention (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test) during actual and sham VNS. RESULTS: We found that VNS had no effect on learning but enhanced consolidation, which led to improved retention. CONCLUSIONS: The means by which VNS improves retention is probably related to the increased activity in the nucleus of the tractus solitarius and the locus coeruleus-central adrenergic system that activates the amygdala and increases long-term potentiation in the hippocampus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-122
Number of pages4
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Learning
  • Locus coeruleus
  • Memory
  • Nucleus of the tractus solitarius
  • Vagus nerve stimulator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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