With a schematic explaining the effects of vagus nerve and spinal cord stimulations on neural networks, Edgerton and Gad present a short review of the implications of the vagus nerve being able to mediate the time-dependent plasticity of an array of sensorimotor networks.
Considering and based on findings by Ganzer et al., they summarize four fundamental biological concepts regarding the vagus nerve.
- “The vagus nerve mediates physiological systems (including sensorimotor and autonomic systems) which are extensively and comprehensively integrated together.”
- “These systems are dynamic and can reorganize and interact in ways that can dramatically change our behavior.”
- “Time-dependence has a central role in defining activity-dependent plasticity.”
- “The networks under the influence of the vagus nerve may be constantly reshaped by neural and biochemical signals via activity-dependent mechanisms.”
The sensorimotor and autonomic connections of the vagus nerve involve so many different organs, and offer an entry point to various neuroendocrine and neurotransmitter systems, that in the view of Edgerton and Gad, “it seems that the vagus nerve can form a ‘connectome’ for many functions.” Their review concludes that there is great potential to support the recovery of multiple functions through interventions via the vagus nerve. Read more at eLife Sciences.