Autonomic bodily responses

Autonomic bodily responses represent dynamic adjustments to the autoregulatory functions that keep us alive. They include changes in heart rate, blood pressure sweating and pupil dilatation that are automatically generated by physical, cognitive and emotional behaviours and that index both conscious and subconscious processes. Autonomic responses are integrated most strongly with emotions, where central representations of peripheral patterns of arousal contribute to feeling states.

Autonomic monitoring is central to the behavioural, clinical and neuroimaging research of Dr Hugo Critchley, funded by the Wellcome Trust. This work involves a close collaboration with the autonomic unit at the NHNN. Studies to date have provided psychophysiological perspectives on emotion responses and accounts of regional brain activity.

Autonomic monitoring during fMRI has been pioneered at the FIL. Synchronous recording of changes in heart rate, pupil size and electrodermal activity (EDA) are now routinely implemented during fMRI. Published fMRI studies have also used ECG and autonomic biofeedback (of pulse and EDA). These methods are being continually developed and are complemented by more sophisticated autonomic monitoring techniques available outside the MRI environment (within the ICN) for example non-invasive beat-to-beat monitoring of cardiovascular parameters, including blood pressure, and measurement of sweat production.

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This page last modified 17 November, 2011 by [ICN Web Team]


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