Our metabolic functions (e.g. organs, glands, involuntary muscles) are influenced by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) via sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions. The vagus nerve, the 10th longest of the cranial nerves, is a major component of the parasympathetic nervous system and serves to maintain homeostasis providing bidirectional communication between the body and brain.
The neuroatanomy of the auricular branch of the vagus nerve (ABVN) offers insight for an understanding of the effects of auricular tVNS on the central nervous system. At present, the outcomes of fMRI studies published to date make it reasonable to surmise that the concha and inner tragus are suitable locations for vagal modulation.
The author reviews contemporary studies exploring the cutaneous distribution of the ABVN and effects of auricular tVNS on the central nervous system (CNS). Read the full paper as published in the Journal of Anatomy.