On the potential of transauricular electrical stimulation to reduce visually induced motion sickness
Perturbations in the autonomic nervous system occur in individuals experiencing increasing levels of motion sickness. Here, we investigated the effects of transauricular electrical stimulation (tES) on autonomic function during visually induced motion sickness, through the analysis of spectral and time-frequency heart rate variability. To determine the efficacy of tES, we compared sham and tES conditions in a randomized, within-subjects, cross-over design in 14 healthy participants. We found that tES reduced motion sickness symptoms by significantly increasing normalized high-frequency (HF) power and decreasing both normalized low-frequency (LF) power and the power ratio of LF and HF components (LF/HF ratio). Furthermore, behavioral data recorded using the motion sickness assessment questionnaire (MSAQ) showed significant differences in decreased symptoms during tES compared to sham condition for the total MSAQ scores and, central and sopite categories of the MSAQ. Our preliminary findings suggest that by administering tES, parasympathetic modulation is increased, and autonomic imbalance induced by motion sickness is restored. This study provides first evidence that tES may have potential as a non-pharmacological neuromodulation tool to keep motion sickness at bay. Thus, these findings may have implications towards protecting people from becoming motion sick and possible accelerated recovery from the malady.
Journal/Conference/Book titleScientific Reports