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See detailThe role of executive functions in task-related analgesia
Rischer, Katharina Miriam UL; Gigl, Sandra; Dierolf, Angelika UL et al

Poster (2019, March)

Introduction: Recent research suggests that weaker executive functions may be linked to a higher risk of pain chronicity. However, little is known about how executive functions affect the modulation of ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Recent research suggests that weaker executive functions may be linked to a higher risk of pain chronicity. However, little is known about how executive functions affect the modulation of acute pain. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of inhibitory control on the success of cognitive distraction from pain. Methods: Participants completed a battery of cognitive tasks (Go/NoGo, Color Stroop, Eriksen Flanker), assessing their cognitive inhibition and selective attention abilities. Additionally, self-report measures of pain catastrophizing and fear of pain were administered. In a pain distraction paradigm, participants completed either a cognitively demanding working memory task (2-back task) or a visually matched easy control task (target response task) while receiving warm or painful thermal stimuli to their left forearm. Nociceptive stimulus intensity was individually calibrated for each participant. Moreover, to maintain a similar level of task difficulty across participants, task speed was continuously adapted based on the participant's performance in the previous trials. Following each trial, participants rated the perceived intensity and unpleasantness of the thermal stimuli on visual analogue scales. Results: As expected, preliminary results indicate that the 2-back task, but not the target response task, successfully distracted participants from thermal pain, manifesting in significantly lower intensity and unpleasantness ratings. Importantly, the magnitude of the distraction effect was negatively associated with the Flanker effect. Discussion: In line with previous research, engaging in a cognitively demanding task led to significantly lower pain intensity and unpleasantness ratings when compared to an easy control task. Moreover, results indicate that better interference control abilities may predict greater task-related analgesia. Taken together, the results of the present study suggest that it is crucial to assess executive functions to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms behind cognitive distraction from pain. [less ▲]

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See detailGood to be stressed? Improved response inhibition and error processing after acute stress in young and older men
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Schoofs, Daniela; Hessas, Eve-Mariek et al

in Neuropsychologia (2018), 119

own on whether and how age modulates stress effects on executive functions and their neural correlates. The current study investigated the effect of acute stress on response inhibition and error ... [more ▼]

own on whether and how age modulates stress effects on executive functions and their neural correlates. The current study investigated the effect of acute stress on response inhibition and error processing and their underlying cortical processes in younger and older healthy men, using EEG. Forty-nine participants (30 young) were stressed with the Trier Social Stress Test (16 young, 9 older) or underwent a friendly control procedure (14 young, 10 older) and subsequently performed a Go/No-Go task with two levels of task difficulty while performance (reaction time, error rate), stimulus-locked (N2, P3) and response-locked (Ne, Pe) ERPs were measured. Previous results on age-related cognitive deficits were replicated, with slower responses and reduced and delayed N2 and P3 components, as well as reduced Ne and Pe components in older participants. Independent of age, acute stress improved response inhibition, reflected in higher accuracy for compatible trials and enhanced inhibition-related components (N2, P3 and N2d, P3d of the difference waves No-Go minus Go), and improved error processing, reflected in enhanced error-related components (Ne, Pe and Ne_d, Pe_d of the difference waves error minus correct trial). Our findings indicate that acute stress leads to a reallocation of cognitive resources, strengthening inhibition and error processing in young and older healthy men to a similar degree. Neural generators of the analyzed ERPs are mainly part of the salience network, which is upregulated immediately after stress. This offers an explanation as to why response inhibition, in contrast to other executive functions, improves after acute stress. [less ▲]

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See detailLate heartbeat-evoked potentials are associated with survival after cardiac arrest
Schulz, André UL; Stammet, P.; Dierolf, Angelika UL et al

in Resuscitation (2018), 126(1), 7-13

RATIONALE: Cardiac arrest (CA) is a serious condition characterized by high mortality rates, even after initial successful resuscitation, mainly due to neurological damage. Whether brain-heart ... [more ▼]

RATIONALE: Cardiac arrest (CA) is a serious condition characterized by high mortality rates, even after initial successful resuscitation, mainly due to neurological damage. Whether brain-heart communication is associated with outcome after CA is unknown. Heartbeat-evoked brain potentials (HEPs) represent neurophysiological indicators of brain-heart communication. The aim of this study was to address the association between HEPs and survival after CA. METHODS: HEPs were calculated from resting EEG/ECG in 55 CA patients 24 hours after resuscitation. All patients were treated with targeted temperature management and a standardized sedation protocol during assessment. We investigated the association between HEP amplitude (180- 320 ms, 455-595 ms, 860-1000 ms) and 6-month survival. RESULTS: Twenty-five of 55 patients (45%) were still alive at 6-month follow-up. Survivors showed a higher HEP amplitude at frontopolar and frontal electrodes in the late HEP interval than non-survivors. This effect remained significant after controlling for between-group differences in terms of age, Fentanyl dose, and time lag between resuscitation and EEG assessment. There were no group differences in heart rate or heart rate variability. CONCLUSION: Brain-heart communication, as reflected by HEPs, is associated with survival after CA. Future studies should address the brain-heart axis in CA. [less ▲]

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See detailLate heartbeat-evoked potentials, indicators of cortical representation of interoceptive signal processing, are associated with survival after cardiac arrest
Schulz, André UL; Stammet, Pascal; Dierolf, Angelika UL et al

in Abstractband Psychologie und Gehirn 2018 (2018)

Rationale: Cardiac arrest (CA) is a serious condition characterized by high mortality rates, even after initial successful resuscitation, mainly due to neurological damage. Whether brain-heart ... [more ▼]

Rationale: Cardiac arrest (CA) is a serious condition characterized by high mortality rates, even after initial successful resuscitation, mainly due to neurological damage. Whether brain-heart communication is associated with outcome after CA is unknown. Heartbeat-evoked brain potentials (HEPs) represent neurophysiological indicators of brain-heart communication, as they reflect cortical representation of interoceptive signal processing. The aim of this study was to address the association between HEPs and survival after CA. Methods: HEPs were calculated from resting EEG/ECG in 55 CA patients 24 h after resuscitation. All patients were treated with targeted temperature management and a standardized sedation protocol during assessment. We investigated the association between HEP amplitude (180{320 ms, 455{595 ms, 860{1000 ms) and 6-month survival. Results: Twenty-five of 55 patients (45%) were still alive at 6-month follow-up. Survivors showed a higher HEP amplitude at frontopolar and frontal electrodes in the late HEP interval than non-survivors. This effect remained significant after controlling for between-group differences in terms of age, Fentanyl dose, and time lag between resuscitation and EEG assessment. There were no group differences in heart rate or heart rate variability. Conclusion: Brain-heart communication, as reflected by HEPs, is associated with survival after CA. Cardiovascular autonomic arousal may not be involved in mediating this e ect. Adequate cortical representation of interoceptive signals may be essential to preserve cariovascular health and should be in the focus of prevention strategies. Future studies should address the brain-heart axis in CA. [less ▲]

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See detailKardiale Modulation der Schreckreaktion bei hoher gegenüber niedriger Symptombelastung: afferente Signalübermittlung auf der Hirn-Körper-Achse beein usst frühe Stimulus-Verarbeitung bei hoher Symptombelastung
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Rost, Silke; Lutz, Annika UL et al

in Hennig, J.; Stark, R. (Eds.) Abstractband Psychologie und Gehirn 2018 (2018)

Somatische Belastungsstörungen (SBS) sind oftmals durch andauernde medizinisch- unerklärte Symptome gekennzeichnet, deren Entstehung größtenteils ungeklärt ist. Diese Studie hatte zum Ziel, die empirisch ... [more ▼]

Somatische Belastungsstörungen (SBS) sind oftmals durch andauernde medizinisch- unerklärte Symptome gekennzeichnet, deren Entstehung größtenteils ungeklärt ist. Diese Studie hatte zum Ziel, die empirisch bislang unbeantwortete Frage zu klären, ob Symptomentstehung auf veränderte Signalübermittlung auf der Hirn-Körper-Achse zurückzuführen ist. Zunächst wurden 486 Personen aus der Allgemeinbevölkerung anhand des SOMS-2 in Personen mit hoher Symptombelastung (HSB; unterstes Perzentil) und niedriger Symptombelastung (NSB; oberstes Perzentil) unterteilt. Personen mit HSB stellen eine besondere Risikogruppe für SBS dar. 28 HSB- und 31 NSB-Personen durchliefen ein Paradigma der kardialen Modulation der Schreckreaktion (CMS), ein Verfahren, das kardio-afferente Signalübermittlung prä-attentiv abbilden kann. Ihnen wurden je zehn akustische Schreckreize (105 dB) in sechs Zeitpunkten nach der kardialen R-Zacke (0, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 ms) präsentiert. Als Indikator für die Schreckreaktion wurden die N1- und P2-Amplitude der auditorisch-evozierten Potenziale über Cz gemessen, da der Effekt der Hirn-Körper-Signalübermittlung im Kortex abgebildet werden sollte. Es zeigten sich geringere N1-Amplituden auf die Schreckreize, die während der systolischen Phase (200, 300 ms) im Vergleich zur diastolischen Phase (0 ms) präsentiert wurden (p=.0002), was für das Vorliegen eines CMS-Effekts spricht. Die HSB-Gruppe zeigte höhere P2-Amplituden als die NSB-Gruppe. Es zeigte sich außerdem, dass der CMS-Effekt bezüglich der N1-Komponente in der HSB-Gruppe geringer ist (p=.035), jedoch bezüglich der P2-Komponente stärker ist als in der NSB-Gruppe (p=.031). Afferente Signalübermittlung auf der Hirn-Körper-Achse könnte bei Personen mit HSB bereits frühe, automatischeWahrnehmungsprozesse verändern, die durch späte, aufmerksamkeits-gesteuerte Prozesse kompensiert werden. Diese prä-attentive Beeinflussung der Stimulus-Verarbeitung könnte ein Mechanismus der Symptomentstehung bei Personen mit HSB und SBS sein. [less ▲]

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See detailImpaired filter function in patients with somatoform disorders and major depression, as reflected by auditory evoked potentials in an oddball and an active distraction paradigm
Hutmacher, Djenna UL; Dierolf, Angelika UL; Lutz, Annika UL et al

in Abstractband Psychologie und Gehirn 2018 (2018)

Introduction: In the in influential perception-filter model of somatoform disorders (SD), three stages of symptom perception are postulated: (1) bodily signals, which may be amplified by stress, (2) a ... [more ▼]

Introduction: In the in influential perception-filter model of somatoform disorders (SD), three stages of symptom perception are postulated: (1) bodily signals, which may be amplified by stress, (2) a filter system, which distinguishes between relevant and irrelevant stimuli, and (3) cortical perception of physical symptoms. As there is dearth of evidence so far supporting the relationship between (1) bodily signals and (2) filter processes in SD, this study investigated if filter processes are altered in SD and if stress may affect filter mechanisms. Methods: Twenty-four patients with SD, 24 with depression and 24 healthy control individuals were assessed. Event-related potentials (ERPs) with two different auditory distraction procedures were recorded over four blocks, one before and three after either a socially evaluated cold pressor test (SECPT) or a control procedure. We manipulated both the frequency of and the attentional focus on stimuli to reflect filter processes. Results: We found smaller P3b amplitudes (reflecting memory storage) in patients with depression and SD, as compared to healthy controls. Furthermore, both patient groups showed a smaller P3a amplitude (reflecting attention), when counting the infrequent tone ("Oddball task") and a smaller N1 amplitude when counting the frequent tone ("active distraction"). In patients with SD, the SECPT had a decreasing effect on P3a amplitudes. Conclusions: Both late filter processes, reflecting attention (P3a) and memory storage (P3b), may be impaired in SD and depression. As acute stress affected attention in SD patients only, the impact of bodily signals (1) on filter processes (2) may be specific for SD. [less ▲]

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See detailLate heartbeat-evoked potentials, indicators of cortical representation of interoceptive signal processing, are associated with survival after cardiac arrest
Schulz, André UL; Stammet, Pascal; Dierolf, Angelika UL et al

in Hennig, J.; Stark, R. (Eds.) Abstractband Psychologie und Gehirn 2018 (2018)

Rationale: Cardiac arrest (CA) is a serious condition characterized by high mortality rates, even after initial successful resuscitation, mainly due to neurological damage. Whether brain-heart ... [more ▼]

Rationale: Cardiac arrest (CA) is a serious condition characterized by high mortality rates, even after initial successful resuscitation, mainly due to neurological damage. Whether brain-heart communication is associated with outcome after CA is unknown. Heartbeat-evoked brain potentials (HEPs) represent neurophysiological indicators of brain-heart communication, as they reflect cortical representation of interoceptive signal processing. The aim of this study was to address the association between HEPs and survival after CA. Methods: HEPs were calculated from resting EEG/ECG in 55 CA patients 24 h after resuscitation. All patients were treated with targeted temperature management and a standardized sedation protocol during assessment. We investigated the association between HEP amplitude (180{320 ms, 455{595 ms, 860{1000 ms) and 6-month survival. Results: Twenty-five of 55 patients (45%) were still alive at 6-month follow-up. Survivors showed a higher HEP amplitude at frontopolar and frontal electrodes in the late HEP interval than non-survivors. This effect remained significant after controlling for between-group differences in terms of age, Fentanyl dose, and time lag between resuscitation and EEG assessment. There were no group differences in heart rate or heart rate variability. Conclusion: Brain-heart communication, as re ected by HEPs, is associated with survival after CA. Cardiovascular autonomic arousal may not be involved in mediating this effect. Adequate cortical representation of interoceptive signals may be essential to preserve cariovascular health and should be in the focus of prevention strategies. Future studies should address the brain-heart axis in CA. [less ▲]

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See detailSensing Your Body: Interoceptive Awareness and Medically Unexplained Symptoms
Flasinski, Tabea UL; Dierolf, Angelika UL; Voderholzer, Ulrich et al

in Abtracts of the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society (2018)

According to contemporary theories of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), alterations in interoception play a major role in symptom development and maintenance. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying ... [more ▼]

According to contemporary theories of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), alterations in interoception play a major role in symptom development and maintenance. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying this relationship remains unclear. To address this unresolved issue, we investigated whether individuals with varying degrees of MUS differ in different facets of interoceptive awareness as assessed with the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) questionnaire. In study 1, 486 individuals were screened with an online version of the Screening for Somatoform Disorders (SOMS-2). Individuals with a SOMS index below 5 (low reporter, n=32) and above 20 (high reporter, n=32) were invited to fill in the MAIA. High symptom reporter had lower scores on the Not-Distracting, Not-Worrying, and Trusting subscales, and higher scores on the Emotional Awareness subscale (Cohen´s d=.70–1.16). In study 2, individuals with DSM-IV somatoform disorder (SFD; n=25) were compared to individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD; n=24) and healthy controls (HC; n=25). The SFD and MDD groups had lower scores on the Not-Distracting, Attention Regulation, Self-Regulation, and Trusting subscales than HC. The MDD group had lower scores than the SFD and HC groups on the Body Listening subscale (partial eta-squared=.18-.26). No differences with regard to Noticing of bodily sensations were found. Groups with subclinical SFD, SFD and MDD do not differ from healthy individuals in terms of actual body perception, whereas cognitive facets of interoception, such as distraction or self-regulation are differentially affected. This highlights the necessity of including specifically targeted mindfulness-based interventions [less ▲]

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See detailWhat our eyes tell us about feelings: Tracking pupillary responses during emotion regulation processes
Kinner, Valerie, L.; Kuchinke, Lars; Dierolf, Angelika UL et al

in Psychophysiology (2017), 54(4),

Emotion regulation is essential for adaptive behavior and mental health. Strategies applied to alter emotions are known to differ in their impact on psychological and physiological aspects of the ... [more ▼]

Emotion regulation is essential for adaptive behavior and mental health. Strategies applied to alter emotions are known to differ in their impact on psychological and physiological aspects of the emotional response. However, emotion regulation outcome has primarily been assessed via self‐report, and studies comparing regulation strategies with regard to their peripheral physiological mechanisms are limited in number. In the present study, we therefore aimed to investigate the effects of different emotion regulation strategies on pupil dilation, skin conductance responses, and subjective emotional responses. Thirty healthy females were presented with negative and neutral pictures and asked to maintain or up‐ and downregulate their upcoming emotional responses through reappraisal or distraction. Pupil dilation and skin conductance responses were significantly enhanced when viewing negative relative to neutral pictures. For the pupil, this emotional arousal effect manifested specifically late during the pupillary response. In accordance with subjective ratings, increasing negative emotions through reappraisal led to the most prominent pupil size enlargements, whereas no consistent effect for downregulation was found. In contrast, early peak dilations were enhanced in all emotion regulation conditions independent of strategy. Skin conductance responses were not further modulated by emotion regulation. These results indicate that pupil diameter is modulated by emotional arousal, but is initially related to the extent of mental effort required to regulate automatic emotional responses. Our data thus provide first evidence that the pupillary response might comprise two distinct temporal components reflecting cognitive emotion regulation effort on the one hand and emotion regulation success on the other hand. [less ▲]

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See detailInfluence of acute stress on response inhibition in healthy men: An ERP study
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Fechtner, Julia; Böhnke, Robina et al

in Psychophysiology (2017), 54(5), 684-695

The current study investigated the influence of acute stress and the resulting cortisol increase on response inhibition and its underlying cortical processes, using EEG. Before and after an acute stressor ... [more ▼]

The current study investigated the influence of acute stress and the resulting cortisol increase on response inhibition and its underlying cortical processes, using EEG. Before and after an acute stressor or a control condition, 39 healthy men performed a go/no-go task while ERPs (N2, P3), reaction times, errors, and salivary cortisol were measured. Acute stress impaired neither accuracy nor reaction times, but differentially affected the neural correlates of response inhibition; namely, stress led to enhanced amplitudes of the N2 difference waves (N2d, no-go minus go), indicating enhanced response inhibition and conflict monitoring. Moreover, participants responding to the stressor with an acute substantial rise in cortisol (high cortisol responders) showed reduced amplitudes of the P3 of the difference waves (P3d, no-go minus go) after the stressor, indicating an impaired evaluation and finalization of the inhibitory process. Our findings indicate that stress leads to a reallocation of cognitive resources to the neural subprocesses of inhibitory control, strengthening premotor response inhibition and the detection of response conflict, while concurrently diminishing the subsequent finalization process within the stream of processing. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of basal and acute cortisol on cognitive flexibility in an emotional task switching paradigm in men
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Arlt, Lea Esther; Roelofs et al

in Hormones and Behavior (2016), 81

The stress hormone cortisol is assumed to influence cognitive functions. While cortisol-induced alterations of declarative memory in particular are well-investigated, considerably less is known about its ... [more ▼]

The stress hormone cortisol is assumed to influence cognitive functions. While cortisol-induced alterations of declarative memory in particular are well-investigated, considerably less is known about its influence on executive functions. Moreover, most research has been focused on slow effects, and rapid non-genomic effects have not been studied. The present study sought to investigate the impact of acute cortisol administration as well as basal cortisol levels on cognitive flexibility, a core executive function, within the non-genomic time frame. Thirty-eight healthy male participants were randomly assigned to intravenously receive either cortisol or a placebo before performing a task switching paradigm with happy and angry faces as stimuli. Cortisol levels were measured at six points during the experiment. Additionally, before the experiment, basal cortisol measures for the cortisol awakening response were collected on three consecutive weekdays immediately following awakening and 30, 45, and 60 min after. First and foremost, results showed a pronounced impact of acute and basal cortisol on reaction time switch costs, particularly for angry faces. In the placebo group, low basal cortisol was associated with minimal switch costs, whereas high basal cortisol was related to maximal switch costs. In contrast, after cortisol injection, basal cortisol levels showed no impact. These results show that cognitive flexibility-enhancing effects of acute cortisol administration are only seen in men with high basal cortisol levels. This result supports the context dependency of cortisol administration and shows the relevance of taking basal cortisol levels into account. [less ▲]

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See detailAcute stress influences the discrimination of complex scenes and complex faces in young healthy men
Paul, Marcus; Lech, Robert, K.; Scheil, Juliane et al

in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2016), 66

The stress-induced release of glucocorticoids has been demonstrated to influence hippocampal functions via the modulation of specific receptors. At the behavioral level stress is known to influence ... [more ▼]

The stress-induced release of glucocorticoids has been demonstrated to influence hippocampal functions via the modulation of specific receptors. At the behavioral level stress is known to influence hippocampus dependent long-term memory. In recent years, studies have consistently associated the hippocampus with the non-mnemonic perception of scenes, while adjacent regions in the medial temporal lobe were associated with the perception of objects, and faces. So far it is not known whether and how stress influences non-mnemonic perceptual processes. In a behavioral study, fifty male participants were subjected either to the stressful socially evaluated cold-pressor test or to a non-stressful control procedure, before they completed a visual discrimination task, comprising scenes and faces. The complexity of the face and scene stimuli was manipulated in easy and difficult conditions. A significant three way interaction between stress, stimulus type and complexity was found. Stressed participants tended to commit more errors in the complex scenes condition. For complex faces a descriptive tendency in the opposite direction (fewer errors under stress) was observed. As a result the difference between the number of errors for scenes and errors for faces was significantly larger in the stress group. These results indicate that, beyond the effects of stress on long-term memory, stress influences the discrimination of spatial information, especially when the perception is characterized by a high complexity. [less ▲]

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See detailDistractor inhibition: Evidence from lateralized readiness potentials
Pramme, Lisa; Dierolf, Angelika UL; Naumann, Ewald et al

in Brain and Cognition (2015), 98

The present study investigated distractor inhibition on the level of stimulus representation. In a sequential distractor-to-distractor priming task participants had to respond to target letters flanked by ... [more ▼]

The present study investigated distractor inhibition on the level of stimulus representation. In a sequential distractor-to-distractor priming task participants had to respond to target letters flanked by distractor digits. Reaction time and stimulus-locked lateralized readiness potentials (S-LRPs) of probe responses were measured. Distractor-target onset asynchrony was varied. For RTs responses to probe targets were faster in the case of prime-distractor repetition compared to distractor changes indicating distractor inhibition. Benefits in RTs and the latency of S-LRP onsets for distractor repetition were also modulated by distractor-target onset asynchrony. For S-LRPs distractor inhibition was only present with a simultaneous onset of distractors and target. The results confirm previous results indicating inhibitory mechanisms of object-based selective attention on the level of distractor representations. [less ▲]

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See detailShort-term food deprivation increases amplitudes of heartbeat-evoked potentials
Schulz, André UL; Ferreira de Sá, D. S.; Dierolf, Angelika UL et al

in Psychophysiology (2015), 52(5), 695-703

Nutritional state, i.e. fasting or non-fasting, may affect the processing of interoceptive signals, but mechanisms underlying this effect remain unclear. We investigated 16 healthy women on two separate ... [more ▼]

Nutritional state, i.e. fasting or non-fasting, may affect the processing of interoceptive signals, but mechanisms underlying this effect remain unclear. We investigated 16 healthy women on two separate days: when satiated (standardized food intake) and after an 18 h food deprivation period. On both days, heartbeat-evoked potentials (HEPs) and cardiac and ANS activation indices (heart rate, nLF HRV) were assessed. The HEP is an EEG pattern that is considered an index of cortical representation of afferent cardiovascular signals. Average HEP activity (R-wave +455-595 ms) was enhanced during food deprivation compared to normal food intake. Cardiac activation did not differ between nutritional conditions. Our results indicate that short-term food deprivation amplifies an electrophysiological correlate of the cortical representation of visceral-afferent signals originating from the cardiovascular system. This effect could not be attributed to increased cardiac activation, as estimated by heart rate and nLF HRV, after food deprivation. [less ▲]

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