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Following one's heart: cardiac rhythms gate central initiation of sympathetic reflexes

Gray, M.A., Rylander, K., Harrison, N.A. ORCID:, Gunnar Wallin, B. and Critchley, H.D. 2009. Following one's heart: cardiac rhythms gate central initiation of sympathetic reflexes. Journal of Neuroscience 29 (6) , pp. 1817-1825. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3363-08.2009

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Central nervous processing of environmental stimuli requires integration of sensory information with ongoing autonomic control of cardiovascular function. Rhythmic feedback of cardiac and baroreceptor activity contributes dynamically to homeostatic autonomic control. We examined how the processing of brief somatosensory stimuli is altered across the cardiac cycle to evoke differential changes in bodily state. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging of brain and noninvasive beat-to-beat cardiovascular monitoring, we show that stimuli presented before and during early cardiac systole elicited differential changes in neural activity within amygdala, anterior insula and pons, and engendered different effects on blood pressure. Stimulation delivered during early systole inhibited blood pressure increases. Individual differences in heart rate variability predicted magnitude of differential cardiac timing responses within periaqueductal gray, amygdala and insula. Our findings highlight integration of somatosensory and phasic baroreceptor information at cortical, limbic and brainstem levels, with relevance to mechanisms underlying pain control, hypertension and anxiety.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
ISSN: 0270-6474
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 14:02

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