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Seizure. 2006 Jun;15(4):259-63. Epub 2006 May 2.

Vagus nerve stimulation and cognition.

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Reference Centre for Refractory Epilepsy, Laboratory for Clinical and Experimental Neurophysiology (LCEN), Department of Neurology, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has been developed as an add-on treatment for patients with refractory epilepsy. Based on the clinical observation of improved cognition in many epilepsy patients who received VNS, we reviewed the recent literature for evidence concerning the cognitive effects of this treatment. From most of these studies it seems that, with currently used stimulation parameters, the effects on memory are only of theoretical importance. However, some animal studies suggest positive effects on specific modalities of memory function. In studies in epilepsy patients, there is no evidence of adverse effects on cognition but clear-cut positive effects cannot be expected either. Preliminary results of VNS in the treatment of diseases associated with cognitive decline such as Alzheimer's disease seem promising but need to be further investigated.

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