Early studies of cognitive motor control have shown deficits in complex reaction time tests of epileptic subjects. The purpose of this efficacy study was to determine whether chronic (28 months) stimulation of the left vagus nerve (VNS) to control seizures increased these deficits in 6 epileptic subjects with intractable complex partial seizures.
Subjects were assessed for simple reaction time, Test A, and subsequent Tests B and C which involved more complex cognitive strategies. Tests were done pre-operatively (S1) and at intervals, 6-8 weeks (S2-S3), and at 6 month intervals (S4-S6) over a 28 month period. Data were collected and collated on an Apple II E computer (Apple, Cupertino CA. U.S.A.) and on electronic switch pad. Data were analyzed using a repeated measures analysis of covariance technique with 2 within subject factors, day, and time of day.
2/11 cognitive measures showed a statistically significant difference. Error rate associated with Test A (simple reaction time) significantly decreased for the factor of day (repeated visits) p = .01. For Test C, error rates decreased in the afternoon (p = .03). This test involved the subjects ability to respond quickly to one signal while simultaneously ignoring a second signal. Data analysis of the covariate showed that the effects of VNS are weak in comparison to baseline differences and the frequency of nerve stimulation negatively predicts the number of wrong errors. High frequency stimulation results showed fewer errors than low frequency stimulation T = -2.31, p = .03.
Chronic stimulation of the left vagus nerve to control seizure activity does not impair cognitive motor control.