A first presentation

A multiphase study on the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) and transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) on the EEG and heart rate variability: Some preliminary results

David Mayor and Tony Steffert 2012


Background: Although acupuncture has been investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) since 1998, and electroencephalography (EEG) since at least 1961, the effects of different EA/TEAS stimulation frequencies have not been so well researched. Heart rate variability (HRV) has also been used as a tool to investigate the effects of acupuncture, but only two HRV studies have been found that explore the effects of different stimulation frequencies. Few such studies have used both EEG and HRV, and none have explored the effects of 10 Hz stimulation.

Objectives: (1) To detect changes in the EEG and subjective state following EA/TEAS with a variety of parameters at different acupoints; (2) In particular, to determine whether an EEG ‘frequency following response’ (FFR) occurs in different regions of the cortex from peripheral electrical stimulation, and whether this occurs preferentially at particular frequencies (2.5 or  10 Hz) or acupoints; (3) To develop and investigate the characteristics of an ‘expectation of feelings’ questionnaire (EXP) and assess whether subjective changes experienced in response to stimulation are in line with those expected.

Methodology: Following completion of a set of online questionnaires, in the initial pilot seven participants attended for either one or two visits (12 in total), during each of which they completed further questionnaires before and after six brief ‘sessions’ of stimulation and monitoring. A follow-up questionnaire was administered online. The EXP questionnaire is also being piloted as an aid to the teaching of EA (N = 35, ongoing).

Presentation: Preliminary results are presented on data extracted from EEG and HRV recording, and from the various questionnaires used.

Conclusions: Implications for the practice of EA/TEAS are discussed, as well as for the next pilot within this study.

You can view the presentation at: https://www.acupunctureresearch.org.uk/symposium/symposium-archive/item/95-david-mayor-and-tony-steffert.html


David Mayor is an acupuncture practitioner in Welwyn Garden City who has written extensively on electroacupuncture. He is a member of the BAcC, an honorary member of the AACP and currently a visiting researcher at the University of Hertfordshire (where this study is being supervised by Tim Watson, Professor of Physiotherapy).

Tony Steffert is an internationally respected independent quantitative EEG consultant and educator specialising in ADHD, dyslexia and peak performance enhancement. He is a founder-member of the Society of Applied Neuroscience and has collaborated in a number of studies with Professor John Gruzelier (Goldsmiths College, University of London).