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Int J Psychophysiol. 2013 Oct;90(1):17-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Oct 13.

Low forced expiratory volume is associated with blunted cardiac reactions to acute psychological stress in a community sample of middle-aged men and women.

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School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


It has been argued recently that blunted cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress have adverse behavioural and health corollaries that reflect dysregulation of the neural systems that support motivation. We examined the association between cardiovascular reactions to a standard stress task, the paced auditory serial arithmetic rest, and forced expiratory volume in one second, an effort, hence motivation, dependent assessment of lung function measured by spirometry. Low forced expiratory volume, expressed as a ratio to height squared was associated with blunted heart rate, but not blood pressure, stress reactivity, r=.17, p<.001. The association survived adjustment for smoking, a range of anthropometric and sociodemographic covariates, resting heart rate and stress task performance, β=.11, p=.005. As such, our results provide support for the hypothesis that blunted stress reactivity may be a peripheral marker of a dysfunction in the brain systems that support motivated behaviour.


Blood pressure; Forced expiratory volume; Heart rate; Stress reactivity

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