Chiropractic Grand Rounds Recap: Roberta Sclocco, PhD

November 9, 2018 -- This past summer, Logan welcomed Roberta Sclocco, PhD, to campus for a Chiropractic Grand Rounds presentation. Dr. Sclocco is a research fellow at Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her presentation, titled “Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation Optimized Using Functional MRI” focused on the application and integration of advanced imaging techniques and brainstem neural science. This work is an ongoing line of research with which Norman Kettner, DC, DACBR, FICC and Chair of Logan’s Department of Radiology is a collaborator.

In an introduction to Dr. Sclocco’s presentation, Dr. Kettner explained the importance the vagus nerve plays in many major biological systems.

“The inflammatory reflex is a physiological mechanism through which the vagus nerve regulates immune function, inhibits excessive proinflammatory cytokine production and may provide a variety of biological, psychological and behavioral health benefits addressing the elements of the biopsychosocial model,” he said. “Vagus nerve signaling plays an important role in the regulation of feeding behavior, gut regulation, immune network interaction, pain modulation and metabolic homeostasis. Cholinergic signaling (inflammatory reflex) is known to alleviate obesity-associated inflammation and metabolic derangement and could be exploited for treatment of metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes mellitus and other obesity-driven disorders. “

Of particular importance to the current opioid epidemic, vagus stimulation has been shown to alter the pain memory process and free chronic pain patients from conditioned pain responses.

Dr. Sclocco describes her research as a merging of the head and the heart and an exploration of whether something useful can come out of integrating the two modalities. This research has employed subcutaneous stimulation of the vagus nerve (auricular branch) with 7 T fMRI to better understand the treatment and its underlying neural mechanisms. Click here to watch the full presentation.

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