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October 2021

Am J Chin Med. 1998 ; 26(3-4): 265-74.

Cerebral cortex participation in the physiological mechanisms of acupuncture stimulation: a study by auditory endogenous potentials (P300).

Hsieh CL, Li TC, Lin CY, Tang NY, Chang QY, Lin JG.

School of Chinese Medicine, China Medical College, Taichung, Taiwan.

Although acupuncture has traditionally used the acupoints formula to treat diseases, the physiological mechanisms involved and the effectiveness of therapy remain unclear. This study investigated the physiological mechanism(s) and response to acupuncture stimulation using the acupoints formula. Scalp-recorded potentials P300 were evoked by auditory stimulation of non-target and target in 13 normal adult volunteers. Latencies and amplitudes were measured. Three assessments were performed in each subject over a period of at least one week. Each assessment was divided into a control period with no acupuncture stimulation, followed by an acupuncture period and then a post-acupuncture period. Acupuncture needles were inserted into the body as follows: 1) non-acupoint: acupuncture needles were inserted 2 cm lateral to both Zusanli acupoints; 2) acupoint: acupuncture needles were inserted into both Zusanli acupoints; 3) acupoints formula: acupuncture needles were inserted into both Zusanli and Shousanli acupoints. Our results showed that both acupoint and acupoints formula assessments resulted in a significant decrease of P300 amplitudes during the acupuncture and post-acupuncture periods. However, there was significant difference in P300 amplitudes in the non-acupoint assessment during these periods. P300 changes in latencies and amplitudes were not significantly different between the acupoint assessment and the acupoints formula assessment. We concluded that acupuncture stimulation of both Zusanli acupoints resulted in a decrease of P300 amplitudes, suggesting the involvement of the cerebral cortex in sensory interaction when simultaneous sensations of the two types are received. No similar changes were observed in the non-acupoint assessment, which have been suggested to be related to so-called acupoint specificity. Results obtained using the acupoints formula were not significantly different from those using acupoints alone. These findings suggested that neuropsychological effects from stimulation of Zusanli acupoints and Shousanli acupoints are different.

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