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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 182837, 11 pages
Research Article

Microcurrent Stimulation at Shenmen Acupoint Facilitates EEG Associated with Sleepiness and Positive Mood: A Randomized Controlled Electrophysiological Study

1Department of Social Work, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong
2Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong
3Chanwuyi Research Centre for Neuropsychological Well-Being, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong
4Institute of Textiles and Clothing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong

Received 14 August 2014; Revised 5 December 2014; Accepted 9 December 2014

Academic Editor: Hyunsu Bae

Copyright © 2015 Mei-chun Cheung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To examine the electrophysiological effects of microcurrent stimulation at the Shenmen acupoint, 40 healthy normal subjects were randomly assigned to a placebo group (sham stimulation) and an experimental group (bilateral electrocutaneous stimulation at the Shenmen). The following two electroencephalographic indicators were used to measure brain activity. (1) Arousal level was measured with reference to log-transformed absolute alpha power and power source and analyzed using low-resolution electromagnetic tomography and (2) frontal alpha asymmetry was used as an indicator of mood. After real stimulation for 10 minutes, absolute alpha power was globally reduced in the experimental group, particularly in the anterior and centrotemporal regions of the brain. This indicates a decline in the brain activity associated with arousal. Moreover, the reduction was more prominent in the left frontal region, as compared to the right frontal region, resulting in significant increase from negative to positive frontal alpha asymmetry scores and reflecting an increase in the brain activity associated with enhanced mood. However, the placebo group exhibited no significant changes in two indicators after sham stimulation. This study provides initial electrophysiological evidence of changes in brain activity associated with reduced arousal (and thus greater sleepiness) and enhanced mood after microcurrent stimulation at the Shenmen acupoint.