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Biopsychosoc Med. 2008 Nov 5;2:21. doi: 10.1186/1751-0759-2-21.

The ventro-medial prefrontal cortex: a major link between the autonomic nervous system, regulation of emotion, and stress reactivity?

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Department of General Internal Medicine, Division of Psychosomatic Medicine, University Hospital Berne, Berne, Switzerland.


Recent progress in neuroscience revealed diverse regions of the CNS which moderate autonomic and affective responses. The ventro-medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) plays a key role in these regulations. There is evidence that vmPFC activity is associated with cardiovascular changes during a motor task that are mediated by parasympathetic activity. Moreover, vmPFC activity makes important contributions to regulations of affective and stressful situations.This review selectively summarizes literature in which vmPFC activation was studied in healthy subjects as well as in patients with affective disorders. The reviewed literature suggests that vmPFC activity plays a pivotal role in biopsychosocial processes of disease. Activity in the vmPFC might link affective disorders, stressful environmental conditions, and immune function.

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