Individuals with a tendency toward abnormally enhanced cardiovascular responses to stress are at greater risk of developing essential hypertension later in life. Accurate profiling of continuous blood pressure (BP) reactions in healthy populations is crucial for understanding normal and abnormal emotional reaction patterns. To this end, we examined the continuous time course of BP reactions to aversive pictures among healthy participants. In two experiments, we showed participants negative and neutral pictures while simultaneously measuring their continuous BP and heart rate (HR) reactions. In this study, BP reactions were analyzed continuously, in contrast to previous studies, in which BP responses were averaged across blocks. To compare time points along a temporal continuum, we applied a multi-level B-spline model, which is innovative in the context of BP analysis. Additionally, HR was similarly analyzed in order to examine its correlation with BP. Both experiments revealed a similar pattern of BP reactivity and association with HR. In line with previous studies, a decline in BP and HR levels was found in response to negative pictures compared to neutral pictures. In addition, in both conditions, we found an unexpected elevation of BP toward the end of the stimuli exposure period. These findings may be explained by the recruitment of attention resources in the presence of negative stimuli, which is alleviated toward the end of the stimulation. This study highlights the importance of continuous measurement and analysis for characterizing the time course of BP reactivity to emotional stimuli.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Marie Curie Actions (Career Integration Grant 334206), the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel (Young Investigator Research Grant 145‐14‐15) and the Israel Science Foundation (Personal Research Grants 823‐18) awarded to Hadas Okon‐Singer.
This work was supported by the Marie Curie Actions (Career Integration Grant 334206), the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel (Young Investigator Research Grant 145-14-15) and the Israel Science Foundation (Personal Research Grants 823-18) awarded to Hadas Okon-Singer.
© 2020 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (all)
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry