Vagus Nerve’s Direct Link to the Brain’s Learning Centers Revealed

Researchers have discovered a link between the vagus nerve and learning centers of the brain. Specifically, they discovered that stimulating the vagus nerve activated pathways that are essential in motor learning. This has direct implications in disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and in stroke rehabilitation, in addition to its possible impact on helping the neurodivergent population with motor tasks.

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The study also revealed a direct connection between the vagus nerve and the cholinergic system that’s essential for learning and attention. Each time the vagus nerve was stimulated, researchers could observe the neurons that control learning activated within the cholinergic system. Damage to this system has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other motor and cognitive conditions. Now that this connection has been established in healthy nervous systems, Welle said it could lead to better treatment options for those whose systems have been damaged.