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See detailCardiac cycle phases affect auditory-evoked potentials, startle eye blink and pre-motor reaction times in response to acoustic startle stimuli
Schulz, André UL; Vögele, Claus UL; Bertsch, Katja et al

in International Journal of Psychophysiology (2020), 157(1), 70-81

Startle stimuli evoke lower responses when presented during the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase, an effect that has been called ‘cardiac modulation of startle’ (CMS). The CMS effect may ... [more ▼]

Startle stimuli evoke lower responses when presented during the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase, an effect that has been called ‘cardiac modulation of startle’ (CMS). The CMS effect may be associated with visceral-afferent neural traffic, as it is reduced in individuals with degeneration of afferent autonomic nerves. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the CMS effect is due a modulation of only early, automatic stages of stimulus processing by baro-afferent neural traffic, or if late stages are also affected. We, therefore, investigated early and late components of auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) to acoustic startle stimuli (105, 100, 95 dB), which were presented during the early (R-wave +230 ms) or the late cardiac cycle phase (R +530 ms) in two studies. In Study 1, participants were requested to ignore (n=25) or to respond to the stimuli with button-presses (n=24). In Study 2 (n=23), participants were asked to rate the intensity of the stimuli. We found lower EMG startle response magnitudes (both studies) and slower pre-motor reaction times in the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase (Study 1). We also observed lower N1 negativity (both studies), but higher P2 (Study 1) and P3 positivity (both studies) in response to stimuli presented in the early cardiac cycle phase. This AEP modulation pattern appears to be specific to the CMS effect, suggesting that early stages of startle stimulus processing are attenuated, whereas late stages are enhanced by baro-afferent neural traffic [less ▲]

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See detailDistinctive body perception mechanisms in high versus low symptom reporters: a neurophysiological model for medically-unexplained symptoms
Schulz, André UL; Rost, Silke; Flasinski, Tabea et al

in Journal of Psychosomatic Research (2020), 137(1), 110223

OBJECTIVE: The neurophysiological processes involved in the generation of medicallyunexplained symptoms (MUS) remain unclear. This study tested three assumptions of the perception-filter model ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVE: The neurophysiological processes involved in the generation of medicallyunexplained symptoms (MUS) remain unclear. This study tested three assumptions of the perception-filter model contributing to MUS: (I.) increased bodily signal strength (II.) decreased filter function, (III.) increased perception. METHODS: In this cross-sectional, observational study, trait MUS was assessed by a webbased survey (N=486). The upper and lower decile were identified as extreme groups of high (HSR; n=29; 26 women; Mage=26.0 years) and low symptom reporters (LSR; n=29; 21 women; Mage=28.4 years). Mean heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV), and cortisol awakening response (CAR) were assessed as indicators of bodily signal strength (I.). Heartbeat-evoked potentials (HEPs) were assessed during rest and a heartbeat perception task. HEPs reflect attentional resources allocated towards heartbeats and served as index of filter function (II.). Interoceptive accuracy (IAc) in heartbeat perception was assessed as an indicator of perception (III.). RESULTS: HSR showed higher HR and lower HRV (RMSSD) than LSR (I.), but no differences in CAR. HSR exhibited a stronger increase of HEPs when attention was focused on heartbeats than LSR (II.); there were no group differences in IAc (III.). CONCLUSIONS: The perception-filter model was partially confirmed in that HSR showed altered bodily signals suggesting higher sympathetic activity (I.); higher HEP increases indicated increased filter function for bodily signals (II.). As more attentional resources are mobilized to process heartbeats, but perception accuracy remains unchanged (III.), this overflow could be responsible for detecting minor bodily changes associated with MUS. [less ▲]

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