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Neuropsychologia. 1998 May;36(5):461-8.

Hemisphere asymmetry in parasympathetic control of the heart.

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Department of Physiological and Clinical Psychology, Catholic University of Eichstaette, Eichstaett, Germany.


Hemisphere asymmetry in the control of parasympathetic outflow to the sino-atrial node of the heart was studied in healthy human subjects using lateralized film presentation for selective sensory stimulation of the hemispheres and power spectral analysis of heart rate variability as a measure of vagal tone. There was a clear and consistent left hemisphere predominance in the control of parasympathetic modulation of cardiac activity which cannot be attributed to differences in emotional processing. Supplementing previous findings of our research group, the present study indicates that control of autonomic cardiac activity at the level of the cerebral cortex seems to be characterized by a division of responsibility between both hemispheres, sympathetic activity being mainly controlled by the right hemisphere and parasympathetic activity being under the left hemisphere's main control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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