New Research Finds the Missing Link Between Our Hearts and Our Heads
believe that stress plays a role in heart disease. Large rises in blood
pressure during mental stress are associated with higher levels of
activity in the regions of the brain associated with experiencing
negative emotions and generating physiological responses in the rest of
the body, a new study has found.
suggests that exaggerated activity in the cingulate cortex during
mental stress may generate excessive rises in blood pressure that may
place some individuals at a greater risk for heart disease.
Most of what
is known about the brain and its links to stress and heart disease has
been taken from research on animals. This study on humans used
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI ), a non-invasive technique
for imaging brain activity.
were inside an MRI scanner, twenty healthy men and women performed a
computer task to create mental stress that, consequently, increased
their blood pressure. This allowed the researchers to correlate
simultaneous changes in blood pressure and brain activity during
was published in Psychophysiology. Lead author Peter Gianaros is an
Assistant Professor in the department of Psychiatry at the University
of Pittsburgh. He has published on the physiology of stress in several
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