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Cereb Cortex. 2018 Sep 1;28(9):3356-3371. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy144.

An Autonomic Network: Synchrony Between Slow Rhythms of Pulse and Brain Resting State Is Associated with Personality and Emotions.

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Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


The sympathetic system's role in modulating vasculature and its influence on emotions and personality led us to test the hypothesis that interactions between brain resting-state networks (RSNs) and pulse amplitude (indexing sympathetic activity) would be associated with emotions and personality. In 203 participants, we characterized RSN spatiotemporal characteristics, and phase-amplitude associations of RSN fluctuations with pulse and respiratory recordings. We found that RSNs are spatially reproducible within participants and were temporally associated with low frequencies (LFs < 0.1 Hz) in physiological signals. LF fluctuations in pulse amplitude were not related to cardiac electrical activity and preceded LF fluctuations in RSNs, while LF respiratory amplitude fluctuations followed LF fluctuations in RSNs. LF phase dispersion (PD) (lack of synchrony) between RSNs and pulse (PDpulse) (not respiratory) correlated with the common variability in measures of personality and emotions, with more synchrony being associated with more positive temperamental characteristics. Voxel-level PDpulse mapping revealed an "autonomic brain network," including sensory cortices and dorsal attention stream, with significant interactions with peripheral signals. Here, we uncover associations between pulse signal amplitude (presumably of sympathetic origin) and brain resting state, suggesting that interactions between central and autonomic nervous systems are important for characterizing personality and emotions.

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