Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Apr 1;49(7):637-43.

Vagal modulation of responses to mental challenge in posttraumatic stress disorder.

Author information

1
The Center for Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Studies of the autonomic nervous system in posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) have focused on the sympathetic modulation of arousal and have neglected the parasympathetic contribution. This study addresses the parasympathetic control of heart rate in individuals who have survived traumatic events.

METHODS:

Twenty-nine survivors, 14 with current PTSD and 15 without, participated in the study. The groups were comparable with regard to age, type of trauma, time since the latest traumatic event, and lifetime exposure to traumatic events. Electrocardiograms were recorded during rest and an arithmetic task. Heart period, respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and the amplitude of the Traube-Hering-Mayer wave were quantified.

RESULTS:

The groups did not differ on resting measures. During the arithmetic task, the past trauma group showed a significant increase in RSA (p <.007), whereas the PTSD group did not. In the past trauma group only, RSA and heart period were highly correlated (r =.75), thereby suggesting that the response to challenge was under vagal control.

CONCLUSIONS:

Trauma survivors who develop PTSD differ from those who do not in the extent to which their heart rate response to challenge is controlled by vagal activity. Responses to challenge in PTSD may be mediated by nonvagal, possibly sympathetic mechanisms.

PMID:
11297721
DOI:
10.1016/s0006-3223(00)01045-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center