Texas-based MicroTransponder has developed an implanted vagus nerve stimulator to enhance one of the brain’s most fundamental functions—learning.
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is produced by a device implanted in the upper chest that sends electrical signals up into the brain from the vagus nerve in the neck.
The vagus nerve links to deep-brain structures which are full of neurotransmitters. Some of those neurotransmitters are key factors in the mechanisms of learning and memory—they tell the brain what to learn and when to learn it. The MicroTransponder device is designed to stimulate the vagus nerve, telling the brain that this information is very important and deserves to be learned or memorized.
MicroTransponder is using this technology right now to help stroke and tinnitus patients. In tinnitus, damage to the inner ear results in a persistent ringing in the ears in the absence of external sound.