A journal article published by postgraduate student Ashim Maharjan on the potential effects of different frequencies of non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation in humans, has seen him awarded the Department of Anatomy Postgraduate Paper Prize.
Ashim (pictured above with co-author Dr Yusuf Cakmak) is the first author of the publication, and completed the research as part of his Masters degree in Neuroscience.
The article, published in international journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, explores the potential benefits of electrical nerve impulses to improve olfactory senses in humans.
The olfactory system is responsible for the processing of smell, memory, spatial navigation, pleasure, mood and sensation.
Olfactory dysfunction affects about half the elderly population aged between 65 and 80 years, and is a common complaint for patients in the early stages of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Eighteen healthy males (non-smokers) took part in a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of vagal nerve stimulation using three different parameters (high frequency, low frequency and placebo), and participants' orbitofrontal cortex activity was monitored with near-infrared spectroscopy.
The results showed, for the first time in human research, that non-invasive high frequency vagal nerve stimulation could be an effective treatment for improving olfactory function.
Ashim was supervised by Dr Yusuf Cakmak in collaboration with Dr Mei Peng from the Department of Food Science. He is currently in the early stages of his doctoral research, under the supervision of Dr Yusuf Cakmak, Dr Mei Peng and Associate Professor Bruce Russell (School of Pharmacy).
Visit the Frontiers in Neuroscience website to learn more about this article.