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Biol Psychol. 2010 Apr;84(1):74-81. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.02.016. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

Emotional reactivity of the airways in asthma: consistency across emotion-induction techniques and emotional qualities.

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Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75205, USA.


Considerable individual differences exist in asthma patients' airway responses to emotional stimuli, but little is known about the generalization of such responses across situations or states of airways constriction. Fifty-four asthma patients and 25 healthy controls viewed in two separate sessions, films and blocks of pictures from each of three emotional qualities, pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. At the beginning of each session, patients received a placebo or anti-cholinergic bronchodilator (ipratropium bromide), respectively, in a randomized double-blind design. Respiratory resistance, reactance and impedance were recorded throughout stimulus presentations with impulse oscillometry. Resistance increases showed a moderate degree of generalization across unpleasant films and pictures, unpleasant and pleasant pictures, as well as cholinergic blockade and placebo. Thus, the intensity of airway responses to unpleasant emotional stimuli is a moderately stable characteristic of asthma patients. In addition to the central airway, peripheral and extrathoracic airways may also contribute the consistency of such responses.

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