Threat and the body: how the heart supports fear processing

Garfinkel, Sarah N and Critchley, Hugo D (2016) Threat and the body: how the heart supports fear processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20 (1). pp. 34-46. ISSN 1364-6613

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Mental processes depend upon a dynamic integration of brain and body. Emotions encompass internal physiological changes which, through interoception (sensing bodily states), underpin emotional feelings, for example, cardiovascular arousal can intensify feelings of fear and anxiety. The brain is informed about how quickly and strongly the heart is beating by signals from arterial baroreceptors. These fire in bursts after each heartbeat, and are quiet between heartbeats. The processing of fear stimuli is selectively enhanced by these phasic signals, and these inhibit the processing of other types of stimuli including physical pain. Behavioural and neuroimaging studies detail this differential impact of heart signals on the processing of salient stimuli, and add to knowledge linking rhythmic activity in brain and body to perceptual consciousness.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry > RC0438 Psychiatry
Depositing User: Jonathan Williams
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2016 13:03
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2017 08:08

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