Cardiac control by sensing and stimulating the vagus nerve

The objective of this project is to obtain relevant information concerning the state of the heart from neural signals measured from the vagal nerve.

To develop and evaluate new methods for selective electrical stimulation of the vagal nerve to influence heart function.

Closed loop control of the heart


Electrical vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) affects the cardiovascular system. VNS is proposed for heart failure management. Signals recorded from the vagal nerve may be used to obtain information concerning the state of the heart. This information could be used as an input to a vagal nerve stimulator. Side effects occur during VNS, which may be avoided by improved selectivity for cardiovascular effects.


Acute experiments of vagal nerve stimulation and recording are performed, with various electrode designs. These experiments have shown that cardiac signals can be recorded extraneurally from the vagal nerve. Both the evoked compound action potential and the spontaneous vagal activity contain relevant cardiovascular information. Also, electrode cuffs with multiple contacts are superior to electrode cuffs with rings, with respect to both sensing cardiovascular signals and affecting the cardiovascular system through electrical vagal nerve stimulation.

Research theme

From Neural Circuit Behaviour to Human Sensory-Motor Function

Principal Investigator

Peter Veltink



People involved

Simone Ordelman

Peter Veltink


September 2007 – September 2011