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Abstract

This article focuses on the importance of social engagement and the behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms that allow individuals to reduce psychological and physical distance. A model of social engagement derived from the Polyvagal Theory is presented. The model emphasizes phylogeny as an organizing principle and includes the following points: (1) there are well-defined neural circuits to support social engagement behaviors and the defensive strategies of fight, flight, and freeze; (2) these neural circuits form a phylogenetically organized hierarchy; (3) without being dependent on conscious awareness, the nervous system evaluates risk in the environment and regulates the expression of adaptive behavior to match the neuroception of a safe, dangerous, or life-threatening environment; (4) social engagement behaviors and the benefits of the physiological states associated with social support require a neuroception of safety; (5) social behaviors associated with nursing, reproduction, and the formation of strong pair bonds require immobilization without fear; and (6) immobilization without fear is mediated by a co-opting of the neural circuit regulating defensive freezing behaviors through the involvement of oxytocin, a neuropeptide in mammals involved in the formation of social bonds. The model provides a phylogenetic interpretation of the neural mechanisms mediating the behavioral and physiological features associated with stress and several psychiatric disorders.

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... II. Les comportements d'approche / évitement et de freezing Porges (2003) a défini comme « neuroception » les circuits neuronaux impliqués dans l'évaluation des risques menaçant la survie dans l'environnement. Après une telle évaluation, le système neural organise la réponse de défense la plus appropriée au contexte environnemental asscié: combattre, rester immobile ou fuir (Akitsuki & Decety, 2009). ...
... In addition, pain is adaptive and has an evolutionary role, indicating the presence of a potential threat (Akitsuki & Decety, 2009). Porges (2003) defined as "neuroception" the neural circuits that are specific in assess safety risk in the environment. After this risk evaluation, the neural system allows to organize the most appropriate defensive response in the frightful environment-to fight, to freeze or to flight (Akitsuki & Decety, 2009). ...
... Moreover, a freezing behavior (i.e., significant reduction of AP COP) was also recorded for the presentation of affiliative pleasant images compared to the neutral ones. These results evidenced that not only unpleasant events may cause freezing reactions but also the authors suggested that immobility plays an essential role for settle social relations Porges, 2003). Along Another study showed that negative life events might influence the HR (bradycardia) and body sway amplitude (reduced AP and ML COP displacements, i.e. a freezing reaction) product in response to IAPS presentation (Hagenaars et al., 2012). ...
Thesis
Empathy allows us to understand and react to other people feelings. Regarding empathy for pain, a witness looking at a painful situation may react to other-oriented and prosocial-altruistic behaviors or self-oriented withdrawal responses. The main aim of this thesis was to study approach/avoidance and freezing behavioral manifestations that co-occurring along with both others’ pain observation and during the anticipation of pain. In two perspective-taking tasks, we investigated the influence of the type of relationship between the witness and the target in pain. Results showed that higher pain ratings, lower reactions times (experiment 1) and greater withdrawal avoidance postural responses (experiment 2) were attributed when participants adopted their most loved person perspective. In experiment 3, we analyzed the freezing behavior in the observer’s corticospinal system while subject was observing painful stimuli in first-and third-person perspectives. Results showed the pain-specific freezing effect only pertained to the first-person perspective condition. An empathy for pain interpretation suggests empathy might represent the anticipation of painful stimulation in oneself. In experiment 4 results, we found that the freezing effect present during a painful electrical stimulation was also present in the anticipation of pain. In conclusion, our studies suggest that cognitive perspective-taking mechanisms mainly modulate the empathic response and the most loved person perspective seems to be prevalent. In addition, more basic pain-specific corticospinal modulations are mainly present in the first-person perspective and it seems to not be referred to the empathy components
... The two branches of the ANS, the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system, regulate vital functions of the body including the cardiovascular system, and contribute to controlling bodily arousal Cacioppo et al., 1994). According to polyvagal theory (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007, the ANS responds to environmental threats through a process called neuroception and supports cognitive and behavioural responses for coping. Porges (2003) proposed that perceptions of safety and threat affect the extent to which individuals can engage in social behaviour. ...
... When neuroception evaluates the environment as threatening, the parasympathetic nervous system withdraws, allowing for an increase of sympathetic nervous system activity, which speeds up the heart rate and helps prepare the body for a fight-or-flight response. This internal state is expected to hinder the fluent expression of social engagement behaviours (Porges, 2003). Thus, to understand the mechanisms involved in unresolved states of mind, it may be informative to study indicators of parasympathetic and sympathetic reactivity and their linkages with discourse about loss or trauma. ...
... Another question raised by this study more broadly regards the psychological characteristics of unresolved states of mind. Some of the lapses in the monitoring of reasoning or discourse, as described by colleagues (1991/1994;2003), may not represent any fear or fright. Rather, these lapses might reflect the speaker's efforts to make sense of painful experiences during the interview, for example by and/or detailed qualitative data. ...
Thesis
This thesis comprises three studies of the meaning of adults’ unresolved states of mind with respect to attachment (U/d) in the Adult Attachment Interview. The first study is a historical analysis of the conceptualisation of “trauma” in the unresolved state of mind classification, drawing on published and unpublished texts by Mary Main and colleagues. The paper traces the emergence of the construct of an unresolved state of mind, and places this in the context of wider contemporary discourses of trauma, in particular posttraumatic stress disorder and discourses about child abuse. In the second study, individual participant data were used from 1,009 parent-child dyads across 13 studies. Interviewees with or without unresolved loss/abuse were differentiated by subsets of commonly occurring indicators of unresolved loss/abuse. Predictive models suggested a psychometric model of unresolved states of mind consisting of a combination of these common indicators, which was weakly predictive of infant disorganised attachment. There was no significant association between unresolved “other trauma” and infant disorganised attachment. The findings provide directions for further articulation and optimisation of the unresolved state of mind construct. In the third study, first-time pregnant women (N = 235) participated in the Adult Attachment Interview while indicators of autonomic nervous system reactivity were recorded. Unresolved speech about loss was associated with increased heart rate. Participants classified as unresolved showed a decrease in pre-ejection period and blunted skin conductance level throughout the interview. Unresolved states of mind may be associated with physiological dysregulation, but questions remain about the psychological mechanisms involved. This thesis contributes towards further clarification of the unresolved state of mind construct by examining its historical context, psychometric characteristics, and psychophysiological mechanisms. Further exploratory and theoretical work should focus on improving the definition and validity of the unresolved state of mind construct, to gain a better understanding of how attachment-related experiences of loss and trauma are processed and how this might affect parenting behaviour.
... The two branches of the ANS, the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system, regulate vital functions of the body including the cardiovascular system, and contribute to controlling bodily arousal . According to polyvagal theory (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007, the ANS responds to environmental threats through a process called neuroception and supports cognitive and behavioral responses for coping. Porges (2003) proposed that perceptions of safety and threat affect the extent to which individuals can engage in social behavior. ...
... According to polyvagal theory (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007, the ANS responds to environmental threats through a process called neuroception and supports cognitive and behavioral responses for coping. Porges (2003) proposed that perceptions of safety and threat affect the extent to which individuals can engage in social behavior. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis when there is no environmental risk. ...
... When neuroception evaluates the environment as threatening, the parasympathetic nervous system withdraws, allowing for an increase of sympathetic nervous system activity, which speeds up the heart rate and helps prepare the body for a fight-or-flight response. This internal state is expected to hinder the fluent expression of social engagement behaviors (Porges, 2003). Thus, to understand the mechanisms involved in unresolved states of mind, it may be informative to study indicators of parasympathetic and sympathetic reactivity and their linkages with discourse about loss or trauma. ...
Article
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Unresolved loss/trauma in the context of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) has been theorised to result from dissociative processing of fear-related memories and ideas. To examine the plausibility of this model, this study tested hypothesised associations between unresolved loss/trauma and indicators of autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity. First-time pregnant women (N = 235) participated in the AAI while heart rate (interbeat interval; IBI) and indicators of parasympathetic reactivity (respiratory sinus arrhythmia; RSA) and sympathetic reactivity (pre-ejection period; PEP, skin conductance level; SCL) were recorded. Using multilevel modelling, ANS reactivity was examined in relation to topic (loss/trauma versus other questions); discussion of actual loss/trauma; classification of unresolved/disorganised; and unresolved responses during the interview. Responses to loss/trauma questions and discussion of loss were associated with respectively larger and smaller IBIs. There was no moderation by unresolved/disorganised status. Unresolved responses about loss were associated with smaller IBIs. Participants classified as unresolved/disorganised showed decreasing PEP and blunted SCL throughout the whole inter- view. The findings suggest that unresolved speech about loss co-occurs with physiological arousal, although the inconclusive findings regarding parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system responses fail to clearly support the role of fear.
... The development of the ANS can provide insight into how and when certain responses to stress may manifest (Porges, 2003b). The PNS-mediated myelinated vagus is integrated into the social engagement system (i.e., social expression, receptivity, and bonds), and when social engagement is compromised, the ANS shifts to activate adaptive defensive behaviors (Porges, 2003a(Porges, , 2007. This results in the removal of regulatory influences of the myelinated vagus on the heart, which then triggers two older systems: the SNS "fight or flight" and the PNS unmyelinated vagus-mediated "freeze" response (i.e., death feigning). ...
... As PNS responses are arguably integrated into the social engagement system (Porges, 2003a(Porges, , 2007, it may be that the type of task (e.g., social context) is particularly relevant for PNS measures. Therefore, there may be important moderators of the relation between PNS measures and PTSS, or the PNS may moderate the relation between a third variable and PTSS. ...
... In addition, the trauma type may influence the pattern of physiological dysregulation. While some argue that the type of trauma experienced might not influence the stress response significantly, as stress-response systems are not sensitive to specific types of experiences, and individual differences likely play a larger role (Smith and Pollak, 2021), the PNS in particular is embedded within the social engagement system (Porges, 2003a(Porges, , 2007, and those exposed to interpersonal trauma are at the highest risk of developing PTSD (Alisic et al., 2014). It is possible that youth exposed to interpersonal trauma would display more dysregulated PNS activity. ...
Article
Full-text available
Physiological dysregulation is a key diagnostic criterion for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While PTSD is defined by trauma exposure, symptom presentations are varied. Similarly, findings of autonomic nervous system (ANS), including parasympathetic (PNS) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS), function in youth exposed to trauma are mixed (e.g., hyporeactivity and hyperreactivity). The present meta-analysis quantitatively assesses the relation between ANS measures broadly, and PNS- and SNS-specific measures, and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in youth (ages 4.98 to 19.55 years) across 38 cross-sectional and longitudinal studies (N = 3488). Findings demonstrate that heightened ANS activity is related to increased PTSS during stress tasks (r = 0.07), while decreased SNS activity at rest corresponded to increased PTSS (r = −0.09). The correlation between PNS measures and PTSS was non-significant. The moderation effect of age on the relation between PNS activity measured during stress tasks and PTSS approached significance, such that younger children showed a stronger negative relation between symptoms and PNS activity compared to older youth. Qualitative review of included studies revealed significant variability across sample and stressor characteristics and study methodology. Findings indicate the importance of autonomic dysregulation in youth with PTSS. Additional considerations for future research are discussed.
... Regarding an evolutionary perspective on emotion recognition and social engagement with our environment, it has been argued that the vagus nerve is the driving phylogenetic element (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007(Porges, , 2009). According to Porges' Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007, mammals-as opposed to reptiles and fish-develop a ventral, myelinated, branch of the vagus, whose activity has been specifically linked to the ability to monitor and regulate complex behaviors, such as attention, motion, emotion, and communication (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007(Porges, , 2009. ...
... Regarding an evolutionary perspective on emotion recognition and social engagement with our environment, it has been argued that the vagus nerve is the driving phylogenetic element (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007(Porges, , 2009). According to Porges' Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007, mammals-as opposed to reptiles and fish-develop a ventral, myelinated, branch of the vagus, whose activity has been specifically linked to the ability to monitor and regulate complex behaviors, such as attention, motion, emotion, and communication (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007(Porges, , 2009. Further elaboration on how the vagus may be involved in such complex behaviors has been provided by the neurovisceral integration model (Thayer & Lane, 2000, putting forward that (cardiac) vagal tone may reflect functional integrity of the neural networks underlying emotion-cognition interactions (i.e., predominantly the central autonomic network (CAN) comprising the anterior cingulate-, insular-, and ventromedial prefrontal cortices, (parts of) the amygdala and hypothalamus, and the nucleus of the solitary tract). ...
... Regarding an evolutionary perspective on emotion recognition and social engagement with our environment, it has been argued that the vagus nerve is the driving phylogenetic element (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007(Porges, , 2009). According to Porges' Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007, mammals-as opposed to reptiles and fish-develop a ventral, myelinated, branch of the vagus, whose activity has been specifically linked to the ability to monitor and regulate complex behaviors, such as attention, motion, emotion, and communication (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007(Porges, , 2009. Further elaboration on how the vagus may be involved in such complex behaviors has been provided by the neurovisceral integration model (Thayer & Lane, 2000, putting forward that (cardiac) vagal tone may reflect functional integrity of the neural networks underlying emotion-cognition interactions (i.e., predominantly the central autonomic network (CAN) comprising the anterior cingulate-, insular-, and ventromedial prefrontal cortices, (parts of) the amygdala and hypothalamus, and the nucleus of the solitary tract). ...
Article
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According to the Polyvagal theory, the vagus nerve is the key phylogenetic substrate that supports efficient emotion recognition for promoting safety and survival. Previous studies showed that the vagus nerve affects people’s ability to recognize emotions based on eye regions and whole facial images, but not static bodies. The purpose of this study was to verify whether the previously suggested causal link between vagal activity and emotion recognition can be generalized to situations in which emotions must be inferred from images of whole moving bodies. We employed transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS), a noninvasive brain stimulation technique that stimulates the vagus nerve by a mild electrical stimulation to the auricular branch of the vagus, located in the anterior protuberance of the outer ear. In two sessions, participants received active or sham tVNS before and while performing three emotion recognition tasks, aimed at indexing their ability to recognize emotions from static or moving bodily expressions by actors. Active tVNS, compared to sham stimulation, enhanced the recognition of anger but reduced the ability to recognize sadness, regardless of the type of stimulus (static vs. moving). Convergent with the idea of hierarchical involvement of the vagus in establishing safety, as put forward by the Polyvagal theory, we argue that our findings may be explained by vagus-evoked differential adjustment strategies to emotional expressions. Taken together, our findings fit with an evolutionary perspective on the vagus nerve and its involvement in emotion recognition for the benefit of survival.
... This vagal flexibility (Berntson et al., 2008) is also said to have an important role in regulating social behavior. The parasympathetically-mediated 'social engagement system' (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003b includes interconnected brainstem nuclei that regulate the myelinated vagus as well as cranial nerves directly involved in controlling muscles of the face and head. Calm, restful visceral states are said to promote these pro-social behaviors such as eye contact and language production; however, dysregulation of the vagal system and/or mobilization of the fight or flight system will block this social engagement system and prevent activation of the facial muscles (Porges, 2003a(Porges, , b, 2007. ...
... In response to an attention-demanding processing task, there further appears an atypical lack of vagal withdrawal in children ASD, who instead showed an increase in RSA to the task . In social contexts, school-aged youth with ASD have evidenced blunted RSA relative to TD peers during social interactions (Neuhaus et al., 2016;Vaughan Van Hecke et al., 2009), when higher RSA would be expected to promote the parasympathetically-mediated social engagement system (Porges, 2003b). ...
... Similarly, the extent to which the TSST is an appropriate paradigm to look for possible underlying parasympathetic differences must be considered. In other words, the TSST may not activate the parasympathetically-mediated 'social engagement system' (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003b and therefore group differences would not be present. There is limited reciprocal communication in the TSST, as the raters are instructed not to provide feedback. ...
Article
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Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may demonstrate atypical autonomic (ANS) responses; however, research remains inconsistent. This study examined parasympathetic response during social evaluation in 241 youth (10–13 years) with ASD (n = 138) or typical development (TD; n = 103). Diagnosis, age, pubertal development, and body mass index (BMI) were hypothesized to be associated with ANS function. Linear mixed effects models demonstrated lower RSA in ASD relative to TD in a base model with no covariates. However, when accounting for differences in BMI, there was no evidence of atypical parasympathetic regulation in youth with ASD. As lower parasympathetic regulation may increase susceptibility for a number of conditions, it will be important to elucidate the link between BMI and the ANS, especially in ASD.
... Vagal withdrawal, and lower RSA, in response to threat associates with fight-flight behavior, especially when there is also coordinated sympathetic nervous system responding (Beauchaine & Thayer, 2015;Porges, 2003). During a social stressor like the TSST, we would expect RSA to be positively concordant with ECSI Prosocial behaviors and negatively concordant with Flight and Displacement. ...
... For instance, RSA is associated with social approach motivation (e.g., Cui et al., 2015), which is why we expected Prosocial-RSA positive concordance. We also anticipated negative concordance for Displacement-RSA and Flight-RSA, as these types of behaviors should align with vagal withdrawal during a stressor (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003(Porges, , 2007. ...
Article
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During pregnancy, a woman’s emotions can have longstanding implications for both her own and her child’s health. Within-person emotional concordance refers to the simultaneous measurement of emotional responses across multiple levels of analysis. This method may provide insight into how pregnant women experience emotions in response to stress. We enrolled 162 pregnant women and assessed concordance through autonomic physiology (electrodermal activity [EDA], respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA]), and coded behavior (Prosocial, Flight, Displacement) during the Trier Social Stress Test–Speech. We used multilevel models to examine behavioral-physiological concordance and whether self-reported emotion dysregulation moderated these effects. Participants exhibited EDA-Prosocial concordance, suggesting that prosocial behavior may be a marker of stress. Emotion dysregulation did not moderate concordance. These findings provide novel information about behavioral coping to stress in pregnancy. Given the importance of observed behavior in the maintenance and treatment of psychopathology, these findings may provide a launchpad for future perinatal intervention research.
... Porges' Polyvagal Theory (Porges, 1995(Porges, , 2003 brought the role of the N. vagus in the regulation of emotions to prominence and described the links between parasympathetic activity and emotional expression. Subsequently, a consistent body of research has documented the association between deficiencies in cardiac vagal function and emotional dysregulation (Beauchaine et al., 2013). ...
... Our overarching hypothesis was that the psychometric measurement of ESR is reflected to a significant extent in psychophysiological measures of cardiac vagal function (i.e., parasympathetic "health"). More specifically, the following three hypotheses were formulated, following Eftekhari et al. (2009), Graziano and Derefinko (2013), Porges (1995Porges ( , 2003, Ragen et al. (2016), Souza et al. (2013), and Weber et al. (2010). We anticipated that higher levels of reappraisal and lower levels of suppression would be associated with a higher baseline of vmHRV (Hypothesis 1); with an increase of vmHRV during a physiological test of cardiac vagal function (Hypothesis 2); and with greater vagal withdrawal (i.e., a greater vmHRV decrease) during recovery from a physiological test of cardiac vagal function (Hypothesis 3). ...
Article
Background: Parasympathetic function and emotional self-regulation (ESR) share neuroanatomic structures. Based on Porges’ Polyvagal Theory and the Neurovisceral Integration Model (NIM), we compared vagally mediated heart-rate variability (vmHRV) with psychometrically assessed ESR. We hypothesized that vmHRV and ESR would be associated during rest, a vagal function test, and recovery from that test. A significant association would justify the psychometric measuring of parasympathetic health, which is less burdensome than its psychophysiological assessment. Methods: 213 healthy males (aged 18 to 26, M = 20.29) took part in the present study. They completed the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ) and underwent the Cold-Face Test (CFT) for four minutes wearing ambulatory electrocardiograms. High frequency (HF) band was used as a measure of vmHRV before, during, and after the CFT. Associations between the HF band and ESR were analyzed with partial rank correlations. Results: There was no significant association between ERQ scores and the response to the CFT itself. But there was an almost significant association between the ERQ scale Cognitive Appraisal and baseline vmHRV, and a significant association between Cognitive Appraisal and cardiac recovery from the CFT, i.e., participants with higher scores on that ESR scale revealed a tendency to exhibit greater vmHRV during baseline and they clearly exhibited greater vagal withdrawal during recovery from the CFT. Discussion: Cognitive appraisal as a psychometrically assessed emotion regulatory process was reflected in a more flexible parasympathetic activity (i.e., better cardiac vagal health) during recovery from an exclusively physiological stressor. This lends convergent validity to self-reported emotion regulation, and justification for its use as a measure of ESR as a trait, offering further support for the Polyvagal Theory and NIM.
... Therefore, the affiliative-focused system is physiologically ingrained and provides a psychological experience of contentment and connection. This experience is structured by tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2011, which are used to express compassion for others. Infants in distress are comforted by parents' presence, touch, and speech, which activate release of oxytocin, a hormone that strengthens feelings of validation, safety and nurture (Gilbert, 2007). ...
... The ventral portion of the parasympathetic system has evolved so that it is activated by tone of voice, facial expression, and gestures that reflect a secure relationship while regulating the threat-focused system at the same time. The dorsal portion evolved so that it enables shutdown, immobilization, and pain numbing (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2011). Therefore, a mother's compassionate gaze and tone can regulate her infant and ease distress. ...
Article
Practicing mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion have in recent years become widely accepted as part of biofeedback therapy. Compassion, in particular, has a measurable physiological basis through the conventional HRV biofeedback instrumentation. The present article reviews the research basis for the integration of compassion in the treatment of biofeedback beyond the essential eclectic use of compassionate practices in biofeedback therapy. Also, it offers two ways of integrating compassion within biofeedback-based interventions.
... In safe environments, a neuroception of safety promotes the social engagement system and the autonomic state is adaptively regulated to dampen SNS activation and to protect the oxygen-dependent central nervous system, especially the cortex, from the metabolically conservative reactions of the DVC (e.g., fainting). Conversely, a neuroception of danger, or life threat, promotes SNS, or DVC, activation, respectively [25,26,29]. The organization of these individual circuits, along with the sympathetic nervous system, can affect subjective experiences of body awareness by modulation of signals that arise from the body by top-down postprocessing, including cortical areas informed by the information traveling through the body-integrative circuits of the brain [19]. ...
... Thus, the NTS seems to integrate subdiaphragmatic reactivity information originating directly from the gut (e.g., the information outflow originating from neuropod cells) and bodily awareness information originating from the insula. Accordingly, the SUB component of our BOA/SUB factor may be represented by gut sensory information projected by cells like neuropod cells and relayed by NTS to cardioinhibitory fibers stemming from DMNX, while the BOA component may be represented by bodily awareness information projected by insula and relayed by NTS to cardioinhibitory fibers stemming from NA. Together, this may represent the implementation of the immobilization without fear state, through a neuroception of safety [29], that, in the polyvagal theory, is believed to require a co-activation of the NA and the DMNX fibers. The co-activation of myelinated NA fibers would assure a sense of safety given by the awareness of one's own bodily state, that could be, or promote, a portal to self-compassion [79][80][81][82][83][84][85][86][87][88][89][90]. ...
Article
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Body awareness disorders and reactivity are mentioned across a range of clinical problems. Constitutional differences in the control of the bodily state are thought to generate a vulnerability to psychological symptoms. Autonomic nervous system dysfunctions have been associated with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Though interoception may be a transdiagnostic mechanism promoting the improvement of clinical symptomatology, few psychometrically sound, symptom-independent, self-report measures, informed by brain-body circuits, are available for research and clinical use. We validated the Italian version of the body perception questionnaire (BPQ)-short form and found that response categories could be collapsed from five to three and that the questionnaire retained a three-factor structure with items reduced from 46 to 22 (BPQ-22). The first factor was loaded by body awareness items; the second factor comprised some items from the body awareness scale and some from the subdiaphragmatic reactivity scale (but all related to bloating and digestive issues), and the third factor by supradiaphragmatic reactivity items. The BPQ-22 had sound psychometric properties, good convergent and discriminant validity and test-retest reliability and could be used in clinical and research settings in which the body perception assessment is of interest. Psychometric findings in light of the polyvagal theory are discussed.
... Discussion of a conflict is mildly stressful for most youths (Connell et al., 2011;Eisenberg et al., 2008) but may require adolescents to modulate and focus their physiological resources on real-time functioning (i.e., the real-time scale) in order to increment their capacity to cope successfully with it. On this real-time scale, increased sympathetic activity in addition to the parasympathetic withdrawal reduce HRV (Porges, 2001(Porges, , 2003. We might wonder whether changes also occur in the multiscale structure of cardiac output as well as in signal regularity and predictability. ...
... To do so, we examined two key nonlinear cardiac properties i.e., scaleinvariant self-similarity and entropy, in addition to cardiac variability given by traditional time and frequency domain HRV measures, in a sample of healthy adolescents during a conflict discussion (a stressful dyadic interaction) and a pleasant conversation (a non-stressful dyadic interaction) with their mothers. Porges' polyvagal theory (Porges, 2003) states that social affiliation, such as that elicited during a positive discussion between parents and their children, should be associated with vagal activation (i.e., increased HRV). Meanwhile, during a conflict discussion task, increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system and a withdrawal in the vagal influence should be reflected in decreased HRV. ...
Article
Full-text available
The present study aimed to provide further evidence on the usefulness of non-linear cardiac measures when examining the output of the cardiac system. Scale-invariant self-similarity and entropy, in addition to heart rate variability (HRV) given by time- and frequency-domain measures were calculated in a sample of N = 55 healthy adolescents (Mage = 14.122, SDage = 0.698) during 10-min positive (non-stressful) and negative (stressful) interactions with their mothers. We also explored sex influence in adolescents’ cardiac output using both HRV measures and non-linear cardiac measures. Repeated measures MANOVA revealed a marginal within-group effect for HRV measures, F(3,51) = 2.438, p = 0.075, η²p = 0.125), and a significant within-group effect for non-linear cardiac measures, F(6, 48) = 3.296, p = 0.009, η²p = 0.292, showing a significant decrement in adolescents’ cardiac complexity during the negative interaction. No significant effect for sex was found in either non-linear cardiac measures or HRV measures, but results suggest lower cardiac scaling in females than in males. These findings suggest a real-time scale predominance in heart rate output when adolescents face an aversive situation and support the importance of non-linear cardiac measures to gain insight into the cardiac system and its regulatory mechanisms. Further research is needed to examine sex-differences in cardiac complexity during aversive situations.
... According to polyvagal theory and the NVI model, inhibition and activation of the myelinated vagus nerve changes at the millisecond-to-second rate (Porges, 1995(Porges, , 2003Thayer et al., 2012;Thayer & Lane, 2000). The common practice of averaging RSA across 30-s epochs obscures dynamic maternal physiological regulatory processes, which would be more accurately estimated at a timescale comparable to beat-to-beat heart rhythms (Fisher et al., 2016;Gates et al., 2015). ...
... Relations among variables shown in solid lines are statistically significant, p < .05. Relations among variables shown in dashed lines are not statistically significant, p > .05 to capture change in vagal functioning from one second to the next, which is more closely aligned with the timescale on which vagal functioning is thought to influence socioemotional behavior (Gates et al., 2015;Porges, 1995Porges, , 2003Thayer et al., 2012). Our results demonstrate that exaggerated temporal variation in maternal RSA is associated with concurrent maternal socioemotional dysregulation during mother-infant free play. ...
Article
During dyadic interactions, well-regulated autonomic responses may support and be supported by socioemotional regulation, whereas autonomic responses that are inappropriate for the social context may be linked with socioemotional dysregulation. We evaluated women’s parasympathetic and socioemotional responses during playful interaction with their 24-week-old infants, hypothesizing that insufficient or excessive variability in second-by-second vagal functioning would be associated with concurrent socioemotional dysregulation. Among a sample of 322 low-income, Mexican origin mothers (Mage = 27.8; SD = 6.5 years), variability in second-by-second vagal functioning was indexed by within-mother standard deviation (SD) in respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) during a 5-min unstructured play task. A latent construct of socioemotional dysregulation was identified using factor analyses. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate linear and quadratic relations between within-mother SD of RSA and concurrent socioemotional dysregulation. Analyses revealed a positively accelerated relationship between within-mother SD of RSA and concurrent maternal socioemotional dysregulation during play with her infant. Within-mother SD of RSA during a non-interactive baseline task was not related to maternal dysregulation. The results illustrate mothers’ dynamic autonomic and socioemotional responses are intertwined during real-time interactions with her infant and lend support for the discriminant validity of within-mother SD of RSA during free play.
... It has been proposed that early differences in brainstem function could impact development of structural and functional interactions between brainstem, limbic and cortical systems (Geva & Feldman, 2008). Differences in maturation of these functions could adversely affect attentional regulation and social attention (Geva et al., 2017;Porges, 2003b). Indeed, there is evidence that brainstem dysfunctions at birth are associated with poorer arousal regulation, hyper-responsivity to arousing stimuli and less regulated inhibitory control (Gardner, Karmel, & Flory, 2003;Karmel, Gardner, & Freeland, 1996; as reviewed by Geva & Feldman, 2008). ...
... In line with this, there is consistent evidence (in line with Polyvagal theory) that vagal activity is associated with social developmental outcomes such as communication abilities and socialization skills as well as presence of internalizing and externalizing symptoms (Bazelmans et al., 2019;Cai, Richdale, Dissanayake, & Uljarevic, 2019;Patriquin, Scarpa, Friedman, & Porges, 2013). This is in line with the Polyvagal and Neurovisceral integration theories that highlight the role of vagal tone in social engagement and emotional regulation (Porges, 2003b;Thayer & Lane, 2000). If present, reduced vagal tone would lead to reduced autonomic flexibility to respond to and adapt to changes in the environment . ...
Article
The present doctoral project aimed to investigate profiles of arousal and attention in autistic individuals and identify how atypicalities in these relate with specific clinical symptoms of autism. I recruited children and young people between the ages of 7 and 15 years who were either neurotypical (n= 31) or had autism (n= 18). I included a clinical control group of children and young people with ADHD (n= 24) as well as those who had comorbid autism and ADHD (n= 33). I collected indices of arousal and attention by measuring heart rate, brain activity (using electrophysiology) and eye movements in response to experimental tasks requiring involuntary orienting of attention to auditory and visual stimuli, and also systematically manipulated characteristics of the stimuli used. I found that there were no group-level differences in arousal profiles related to autism; but rather, that participants with ADHD (with or without autism) exhibited profiles of sympathetic underarousal. Given the heterogeneity in arousal profiles due to presence of ADHD in autistic participants, and due to heterogeneity apparent in the arousal literature in autism, I investigated the presence of subgroups with different arousal profiles in the autistic sample. This revealed that autistic participants could be stratified into distinct subgroups who showed tonic hyper- and hypo-arousal. These subgroups presented with different clinical profiles, such that the hyper-aroused subgroup showed worse autism symptom severity and higher rates of anxiety and sensory avoidance behaviours; while the hypo-aroused subgroup showed higher rates of hyperactive and impulsive behaviours as well as more sensory-seeking behaviours. I also found that autistic participants demonstrated intact abilities to orient to and habituate to simple auditory and visual stimuli. However, autistic participants (without ADHD) showed atypicalities in their profile of orienting to stimuli with higher complexity. These atypicalities in attention were related with social interaction symptoms of autism. Further, these atypicalities appeared to relate with presence of tonic hyperarousal. I verified the atypicalities observed in orienting to more complex visual stimuli in an independent sample of neurotypical children (n= 64) and found that neurotypical children with higher levels of subclinical autistic traits showed similar atypicalities in orienting attention to more complex stimuli. The implications of these findings within the context of the literature on arousal and attention and recommendations for future research are discussed.
... PNS assessments provide indices of ER processes. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA; changes in heart rate associated with the respiratory cycle), captures PNS influences on the heart via the vagus nerve, which is also thought to be central to social engagement and reciprocity through its enervation of the facial muscles (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007 (Berntson & Cacioppo, 2007). RSA is thought to be a particularly important index of ER capacity during social interactions (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007. ...
... Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA; changes in heart rate associated with the respiratory cycle), captures PNS influences on the heart via the vagus nerve, which is also thought to be central to social engagement and reciprocity through its enervation of the facial muscles (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007 (Berntson & Cacioppo, 2007). RSA is thought to be a particularly important index of ER capacity during social interactions (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007. RSA is typically measured by assessing high frequency heart rate variability coinciding with respiration (HF-HRV, see Berntson et al., 1997). ...
Article
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Effective emotion regulation (ER) is integral to adolescents’ mental well-being and socio-emotional development. During adolescence, peer interactions have an increasingly salient influence on the development of effective ER, but not all supportive peer interactions support adaptive ER. Co-rumination reflects the tendency to seek ER support by engaging with peers in negatively-focused discussion of ongoing problems. We examined associations between co-rumination (state and trait) with measures of individual autonomic (i.e., respiratory sinus arrhythmia, RSA) and affective regulation (self-report) among 30 female close-friend dyads (ages 11-17; 74% White) while engaged in a support-seeking discussion in the laboratory. We found that trait co-rumination corresponded with RSA withdrawal during peer support, suggesting a potential mechanism by which co-rumination contributes to dysregulated ER. We also examined dyadic patterns of physiological regulation via prospective change actor partner interdependence models (APIM). Partner effects were moderated by behaviorally-coded state co-rumination. Dyads with high state co-rumination displayed coupled RSA movement in opposite directions while dyads with low state co-rumination exhibited coupled RSA movement in the same direction. These findings are consistent with similar physiologic linkages in close relationships observed in other developmental periods. Results highlight the importance of multi-modal assessment for characterizing social ER processes across development. Keywords: co-rumination, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, emotion regulation, parasympathetic, adolescence, peer support
... A neurophysiological theory of social behavior is the polyvagal theory (PT) (Porges, 2001;Porges, 2003), which argues that autonomous dominance will facilitate specific affective behavior and related feelings. In particular, the PT suggests three levels of physiological activation: 1) Immobilization, which keeps energy expenditure to a minimum for survival, including a distancing from social contact, and in particular, a decrease in emotional facial expression, between other effects; 2) Fight/flight, in which the organism prepares the physiological resources to face the stressor, and whose facial expression appears and accompanies the emotion that the individual experiences (fear or angry, for example); 3) Social Engagement, in which physiological activation is low, facilitating social interaction behaviors, promoting emotional facial gesticulation of serenity. ...
... Some neurological diseases (Gola et al., 2017;Ricciardi et al., 2017) and psychiatric, such people with anxious spectrum and mood disorders (depression) (Berg et al., 2016;Shiroma, Thuras, Johns, & Lim, 2016) affect performance to recognize emotions and have difficulty regulating their autonomic affective functioning and social involvement behaviors (emotional facial expression and control of striated muscles of the face and head reduced) (Porges, 2003). Stress (physical or emotional) can influence emotional regulation activing three systems:, nervous system (central, peripheralautonomic and somatic -and enteric gastrointestinal); endocrinological system; immune system, in particular, proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukins (IL) (Liu, Wang, & Jiang, 2017). ...
Article
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Several studies have evaluated emotional facial recognition in people with neurological disorders and psychiatric illnesses. However, few behavioral rehabilitation programs in social skills include training in emotional facial recognition and reproduction. The objective of the present investigation was to develop a pilot brief intervention in recognition and emotional facial reproduction and its deactivation through relaxation, to evaluate its biopsychosocial effects. A pre-post-treatment design was used (N = 22 healthy adults). The results have shown an effect on the decrease of the respiratory rate (p <. 001) and the inflammatory response associated with stress (p < .05), as well as a decrease (p <. 05) of the anxiety score, depression and emotional suppression; and an increase in the social support score. Its clinical utility is discussed in the context of training these skills for mental health professionals and patients with elevated inflammation.
... The quality of parental bonding influences the development of top-down processes of emotional regulation, which could potentially shape social interactions and physiological responses in individuals. The ability to perceive typical social situations as non-threatening and risk-free also has implications for the autonomic nervous system [13]. According to the literature, ideal parental practices can be described in terms of higher levels of care and lower overprotection. ...
Article
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Early interactions with significant individuals affect social experience throughout the course of a lifetime, as a repeated and prolonged perception of different levels of care, independence, or control influences the modulation of emotional regulatory processes. As many factors play a role in shaping the expectations and features of social interaction, in this study, we considered the influence of parental bonding and genetic allelic variation of oxytocin receptor gene polymorphism (rs53576) over levels of experienced anxiety and avoidance in 313 young adults belonging to two different cultural contexts, namely Italy and Singapore. Results highlighted a major effect of maternal characteristics, care, and overprotection, with differences between the two cultural groups. Additionally, the interaction between rs53576 and maternal overprotection suggested different environmental susceptibility in the Italian sample and the Singaporean one. Implications for clinical work and future steps are described in the Conclusion.
... Furthermore, Bornemann and colleagues (2016) showed that training individuals in various techniques that improve vmHRV has an impact on prosocial behavior. This assumption is at the core of Porges' Polyvagal Theory, which postulates that social engagement and trust are emerging properties of the mammalian autonomic nervous system and conceptualizes vmHRV as a biomarker of social engagement capacities (Porges, 1998(Porges, , 2003. Indeed, infant vmHRV appears to be a predictor of mother-child interactions, with lower infant vagal tone associated with more disruptive interaction patterns (Porter, 2003). ...
Article
In recent years, increasing interest has been devoted to the physiological basis of self and other-oriented compassion. Heart rate variability (HRV) represents a promising candidate for such a role, given its association with soothing emotions and context appropriate prefrontal inhibitory control over threat-defensive responses. The aim of this study was to meta-analyze available studies on the association between compassion and HRV. Random-effect models were used. The analysis performed on sixteen studies that met inclusion criteria, yielded a significant association with a medium effect size (g = .54 95% CI [.24, .84], p < .0001). Results were not influenced by publication bias. After an extreme outlier’s exclusion, the size of the association was still larger in studies that used time or frequency-domain indices of vagally-mediated HRV compared to those that used peak to trough estimates of respiratory sinus arrhythmia. Results are limited by the small number of studies included in the meta-analysis (n = 16) and are discussed in terms of indications for future research, given that existing data are highly heterogeneous and of poor methodological rigor.
... However, the therapist needs to become proficient in noticing changes in tone and prosody, subtle facial movements and changes in expressions, reflecting sensations and feelings. These and additional cues from the client's breath and posture also reflect the client's general feelings of safety and may contribute to the degree of physiological and emotional synchronization and reciprocity that take place in dyadic interactions (Porges 2003). The therapist's checking with the client the accuracy of his/her interpretations of these cues contributes to their mutual work and creates for the client a positive sense of his/her experience being accurately perceived, understood, and verbalized in a compassionate manner. ...
Article
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The covid-19 pandemic raises substantial challenges for the practice of psychotherapy. The rapid changes in the personal experiences of both clients and therapists, and the required adaptations in the therapeutic setting, affect the therapeutic relationship and its process. We examine common challenges observed through supervision of therapists and peer group discussions, viewing them in light of reports of previous collective traumatic events. Consequently, we introduce major premises and techniques borrowed from Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy as they may apply to teletherapy. These interventions aim to maintain and strengthen the intimacy and safety of the therapeutic attachment relationship, essential for processing actual experiences of emotions and creating affective changes. We explicate the rationale and the clinical application of these relational and experiential interventions, and organize them through a comprehensive model. The model visually illustrates the matching of therapeutic interventions to the handling of the psychological upheavals triggered by the changes imposed by the pandemic, particularly the move to teletherapy. In addition to theoretical and practical suggestions, which could be adapted to various models of therapy, we present a brief clinical case demonstrating the application of the suggested therapeutic thinking and interventions.
... Care homes have encouraged staff to support residents to get 'online' to access social media tools such as Facebook and expand their social network virtually [5,13]. However, Porges' social engagement and attachment theory [31] posits that face-to-face interactions are crucial for good quality social interactions and sustaining new and existing relationships. That is because body language and eye gaze influences important social cues that are clearly missed when interacting with individuals using text or social media platforms. ...
Article
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Video calls using software such as Skype, Zoom and FaceTime can improve socialisation among older people and family, however it is unknown if video calls are able to improve socialisation among older people and their peers. Twenty-two residents across three British care homes engaged with each other using 'Skype quiz' sessions with the support of staff once a month over an eight-month trial. Video calls were accessed via a 'Skype on Wheels' intervention that comprised a wheeled device that could hold an iPad, or through Skype TV. Residents met other residents from the three care homes to build new friendships and participate in a thirty-minute quiz session facilitated by eight staff. Staff were collaborators who recruited older people, implemented the intervention and provided feedback that was analysed using thematic analysis. Residents enjoyed being able to see other residents' faces and surroundings. Analysis of the field notes revealed five themes of: residents with dementia remember faces not technology, inter and intra connectedness, regaining sense of self and purpose, situational loneliness overcome and organisational issues create barriers to long-term implementation. Inter-care home connection through video calls to reduce feelings of loneliness in residents seems acceptable and a feasible, low cost model, especially during times of public crisis such as COVID-19.
... First, it is reasonable that feeling rushed resulted in out-of-tempo control, which is a typical behavioural abnormality experienced under pressure [6]. This can be also compatible with the polyvagal theory that proposes a relation between malfunctions of the autonomic nervous and choking under pressure [42]. Second, a loss of neuromuscular control, such as failure to relax the muscles, can elevate the viscoelasticity of the finger muscles, which increases biomechanical constraints on movement independence between the fingers due to anatomical connections across multiple fingers [43,44]. ...
Article
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Under pressure, motor actions, such as those required in public speech, surgery, or musical performance, can be compromised, even when these have been well-trained. The latter is often referred to as 'choking' under pressure. Although multifaceted problems mediate such performance failure in anxiogenic situations, such as compromised motor dexterity and cognitive disruption, the fundamental set of abnormalities characterizing choking under pressure and how these abnormalities are related have not been elucidated. Here, we attempted, first, to classify behavioural, psychological, and physiological abnormalities associated with choking under pressure in musicians and, second, to identify their relationship based on datasets derived from a questionnaire with 258 pianist respondents. Explorative factor analysis demonstrated eight functional abnormalities related to the musicians' choking, such as attention to the audience, erroneous motor actions, perceptual confusion, and failure of memory recall, which however did not include exaggerated attention to the performance. This suggests distraction of attention away from skill execution, which may underlie the spoiled performance under pressure. A structural equation analysis further inferred causal relationships among them. For instance, while failure of memory recall was influenced by passive behaviours manifesting under pressure, erroneous motor actions during performance were influenced by feeling rushed and a loss of body control. In addition, some specific personal traits, such as neuroticism, public self-consciousness, and a lack of confidence, were associated with the extent to which pressure brought about these abnormalities. These findings suggest that distinct psycho-behavioural abnormalities and personal traits underlie the detrimental effects of pressure on musical performance.
... Polyvagal Theory proposes that the neural evaluation of risk and safety reflexively triggers shifts in autonomic state without requiring conscious awareness. Thus, the term "neuroception" was introduced to emphasize a neural process, distinct from perception, capable of distinguishing environmental and visceral features that are safe, dangerous, or life-threatening (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2004. A form of neuroception can be found in virtually all living organisms, regardless of the development of the nervous system. ...
Article
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Contemporary strategies for health and wellbeing fail our biological needs by not acknowledging that feelings of safety emerge from internal physiological states regulated by the autonomic nervous system. The study of feelings of safety has been an elusive construct that has historically been dependent upon subjectivity. Acknowledging that feelings of safety have a measurable underlying neurophysiological substrate would shift investigations of feelings of safety from a subjective to an objective science. Polyvagal Theory provides an innovative scientific perspective to study feelings of safety that incorporates an understanding of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. This perspective identifies neural circuits that downregulate neural regulation of threat reactions and functionally neutralize defensive strategies via neural circuits communicating cues of safety that enable feelings of safety to support interpersonal accessibility and homeostatic functions. Basically, when humans feel safe, their nervous systems support the homeostatic functions of health, growth, and restoration, while they simultaneously become accessible to others without feeling or expressing threat and vulnerability. Feelings of safety reflect a core fundamental process that has enabled humans to survive through the opportunistic features of trusting social engagements that have co-regulatory capacities to mitigate metabolically costly defense reactions. Through the study of neural development and phylogeny, we can extract foundational principles and their underlying mechanisms through which the autonomic nervous system leads to feelings of safety and opportunities to co-regulate. Several principles highlight the validity of a science of safety that when implemented in societal institutions, ranging from healthcare to education, would enhance health, sociality, and lead to greater productivity, creativity, and a sense of wellbeing. By respecting our need to feel safe as a biological imperative linked to survival, we respect our phylogenetic heritage and elevate sociality as a neuromodulator that functionally provides the scientific validation for a societal focus on promoting opportunities to experience feelings of safety and co-regulation.
... First, the underlying psychophysiological basis for a relationship between attachment and sensory processing require further investigation. Evidence suggests that autonomic nervous system activity may underpin both sensory processing (Bar-Shalita et al., 2020;Christensen et al., 2020;Gomez et al., 2017;Schaaf et al., 2015) and attachment systems (Oosterman et al., 2010;Porges, 2003;Reijman et al., 2017); however, more research on sensory processing patterns in adults is necessary. Second, while sensory processing patterns have been associated with attachment patterns, further research should also consider the effects of the broader childhood environment (e.g., childhood adversity; Booth et al., 2015;Greven et al., 2019). ...
Thesis
Clinicians and researchers have increasingly identified that individuals often co-present with sensory processing and attachment difficulties. To understand and support clients with difficulties related to sensory processing and/or attachment, more research is needed to understand how and why these two constructs are related, particularly in the context of contemporary research on psychophysiology and childhood adversity. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the ways in which sensory processing and attachment patterns are related, the reasons they may be related, and to examine the implications of this relationship for areas of functioning and wellbeing. A scoping review was undertaken to examine evidence for a relationship between sensory processing and attachment patterns across the lifespan. There is emerging evidence in children that attachment security is related to better sensory modulation (i.e., self-regulation in response to sensations). In adults, there is also evidence that having a low sensory threshold (i.e., easily noticing and/or becoming overwhelmed by sensory stimuli) is related to attachment anxiety and, to a lesser extent, attachment avoidance. Findings from this review highlighted a need for further research in this area, including research: (1) examining the impact of childhood experiences on the relationship between sensory processing and attachment patterns; (2) investigating the psychophysiological underpinnings of sensory processing; and (3) exploring the implications for sensory processing and attachment on functioning and wellbeing. Based on the findings of this scoping review and a broader review of relevant research and theories, three cross-sectional studies were designed to address these gaps in the literature and lay the foundation for the proposition of a new model to understand the complex interactions between these factors. The first study was a laboratory-based study with a non-clinical young adult sample. This study aimed to determine whether different sensory processing patterns were associated with differences in autonomic functioning before, during and after a physical stressor. In the study, a low sensory threshold was related to unique patterns of autonomic activity and reactivity, which varied by gender. Previous studies have found that autonomic arousal may underpin patterns of attachment insecurity and explain the behavioural patterns of people who have experience childhood adversity. This study therefore indicates that autonomic arousal may be a potential psychophysiological factor that underpins the relationship between these constructs. The second study was an online survey with a non-clinical adult sample designed to investigate the links between sensory processing patterns, attachment patterns, and childhood experiences. In this study, it was found that childhood adversity predicted more attachment anxiety in adulthood for highly sensitive individuals. However, childhood adversity predicted more attachment avoidance for individuals with low levels of sensitivity. These findings indicate that sensory processing sensitivity interacts with childhood adversity to shape the type of attachment pattern an individual experiences in adulthood. The second study also produced a second paper that investigated the interaction effect between childhood adversity and sensory processing sensitivity on meaningful activity engagement in adulthood. Sensory processing sensitivity was not related to meaningful activity engagement and did not moderate the relationship between childhood adversity and meaningful activity engagement. Childhood adversity did, however, directly affect an individual’s level of meaningful activity engagement in adulthood. This finding supports the involvement of early intervention occupational therapists for individuals who experience childhood adversity as they are more likely to have long-term difficulties with meaningful activity engagement, which has important implications for their health and wellbeing. The third study investigated the implications of sensory processing and attachment patterns for functioning in families of children with persistent pain. Pain is a sensory experience that can trigger an individual’s threat response and activate their attachment system. Children with persistent pain often co-present with sensory processing and attachment difficulties, which impact their wellbeing and functioning. Because it was theorised that a child’s sensory processing and attachment patterns impact the child-caregiver relationship, it was expected that the child’s sensory processing and attachment patterns may also affect caregiver functioning in this context. However, it was found that the children’s sensory processing patterns were not related to parent functioning. Child and parent attachment avoidance were, however, significantly related to poorer parent functioning in a range of domains. Because the study did not investigate parent sensory processing patterns, further research is needed to understand how the interaction between child and caregiver sensory processing patterns may affect the attachment relationship and family functioning. When considering the findings of these studies alongside the contemporary literature, there is growing evidence that sensory processing, attachment patterns, and childhood experiences are interrelated factors that may be underpinned by autonomic arousal. However, it is evident that there is a need for an integrative model that conceptualises sensory processing in the context of attachment, childhood experiences, and autonomic functioning. The Dyadic Model of Sensory Modulation is therefore proposed in the fourth and final section of this thesis. Clinical implications and future areas of study are discussed that may help to further understand this emerging area of research and practice.
... We aimed to systematically investigate concordance between multiple emotional subsystems using tasks eliciting different levels of emotional intensity and requiring different degrees of regulatory efforts. According to the Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2003(Porges, , 2007, when we feel safe, the myelinated vagus nerve (one component of ANS) supports our social communication, self-soothing, and calming behaviors. When we feel unsafe or are challenged, our SNS may be activated to respond to the challenge. ...
Article
Current understandings of emotional concordance are still limited though it has been conceptualized and examined in various ways. We argue that emotional concordance could be better understood within individuals across real time in specific measurement contexts. The current study examined emotional dynamic within-person concordance within physiological subsystems and between physiological and expressive subsystems. We also explored the moderating roles of between-person factors on the within-person concordance and discordance. We found strong concordance within sympathetic indicators (PEP and CO), and between sympathetic and parasympathetic indicators (PEP and RSA), almost across all laboratory tasks. Evidence for concordance was generally weak between physiology and facial expression and have mostly been found between sympathetic indicator (PEP) and facial expressions. Participant socioeconomic status (SES) and sexual orientation seemed to moderate the emotional concordance. We discussed our findings across the various laboratory tasks in the current study.
... Polyvagal theory links higher VmHRV (cardiac vagal control) to positive social functioning, emphasizing vagus nerve activity in an integrated neural circuit consisting of somatomotor (striated muscles of head and face) and autonomic components that support or impede social bonding (Porges, 2011(Porges, , 2007(Porges, , 2001. Threatening facial expressions, for example, trigger defensive states incompatible with social engagement, while vagally regulated autonomic states support calmer expressions and prosociability (Porges, 2018(Porges, , 2003. Vagal regulation appears to contribute to adaptive social behaviors (Porges and Furman, 2011), a finding supported in multiple studies linking higher cardiac vagal tone with greater social competence (Beauchaine, 2001), empathy (Fabes et al., 1994;Stellar et al., 2015), and connectedness (Kok and Fredrickson, 2010). ...
Article
Higher meaning in life (MIL) consistently predicts better health, but the physiological processes underlying this relationship are not well understood. This study examined the relationship between MIL and vagally-mediated heart rate variability (VmHRV) under resting (N = 77), stressor (n = 73), and mindfulness intervention (n = 72) conditions. Regression was used for MIL-VmHRV analyses at baseline, and longitudinal mixed models were used to examine phasic changes in VmHRV as a function of MIL. Regression revealed a quadratic MIL-VmHRV relationship, and mixed models linked higher MIL to greater stress-reactivity but not enhanced stress-attenuation. MIL and mindfulness did not interact to influence VmHRV recovery after experimental stress. Findings suggest that cardiac vagal tone and cardiac vagal reactivity are linked to MIL, shedding light on the physiology underlying MIL and its health associations.
... When environments are safe, a neuroception of safety favors the SES, and the SNS activation is adaptively dampened to preserve the central nervous system that is highly oxygen-dependent, in particular the cortex, from the activities of the DVC (e.g., fainting) that are highly metabolically conservative. In contrast, a neuroception of danger, or life threat, favors activation of the SNS or DVC, respectively [1,2,6]. The organization of these specific circuits, along with the SNS, can influence the individual experiences of body awareness by modulating information that emerges from the body through top-down post-processing, including cortical areas informed by the signals traveling through the body-integrative circuits of the brain [7,8]. ...
Article
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Baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) has been proposed as a transdiagnostic biomarker of stress vulnerability across psychopathologies, and a reliable association between PTSD, OCD and lower resting RSA was found. Contemplative practices have been linked to the activation of the vagus as well as to an increased RSA that, according to the polyvagal theory, reflects the activation of the ventral vagal complex (VVC) and may promote PTSD and OCD recovery. PubMed and Scopus databases were selected to conduct a search following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) 2020 guidelines, and A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews-2 (AMSTAR-2) was used to appraise the methodological quality for this systematic review. Six articles met the inclusion criteria (one cross-sectional study, one study with pre-post measurements, two cohort studies and two RCT studies). Mindfulness-related interventions promoted parasympathetic activity, an increased vagal tone and improvements in PTSD and OCD symptoms. According to the polyvagal theory, mindfulness-related and compassion-related meditations would be conceptualized as neural exercises expanding the capacity of the ventral vagal complex to regulate the present state and to promote resilience. Clinical and methodological issues are discussed.
... [108][109][110] In particular, the utilisation of face-time technologies has been shown to increase and enhance social interactions 111 and engagement. 112 During the pandemic, these benefits were recognised by the UK government in their scheme that provided free tablets to care homes to help connect isolating residents with their families and loved ones. 113 ...
Article
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Objective: The increased reliance on digital technologies to deliver healthcare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant pre-existing disparities in digital access and utilisation of healthcare might be exacerbated in disadvantaged patient populations. The aim of this rapid review was to identify how this 'digital divide' was manifest during the first wave of the pandemic and highlight any areas which might be usefully addressed for the remainder of the pandemic and beyond. Design: Rapid review and narrative synthesis. Data sources: The major medical databases including PubMed and Embase and Google Scholar were searched alongside a hand search of bibliographies. Eligibility criteria: Original research papers available in English which described studies conducted during wave 1 of the COVID pandemic and reported between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2021. Results: The search was described using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses and identified nine studies. The results are presented within a refined framework describing the three key domains of the digital divide: (1) digital access, within which one study described continuing issues with internet connectivity among vulnerable patients in the UK; (2) digital literacy, where seven studies described how ethnic minorities and the elderly were less likely to use digital technologies in accessing care; (3) digital assimilation, where one study described how video technologies can reduce feelings of isolation and another how elderly black males were the most likely group to share information about COVID-19 on social media platforms. Conclusions: During the early phase of the pandemic in the developed world, familiar difficulties in utilisation of digital healthcare among the elderly and ethnic minorities continued to be observed. This is a further reminder that the digital divide is a persistent challenge that needs to be urgently addressed when considering the likelihood that in many instances these digital technologies are likely to remain at the centre of healthcare delivery.
... Heart rate variability, or changing of the HR with time, is enhanced by a rhythmic exchange between stimulation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS); this allows the heart to adapt to physical and emotional requirements, leading to reduced stress and anxiety, improved mental and physical performance and a more synchronized connection between the heart and the brain [3]. Higher HRV is correlated with improved cardiovascular function [4], emotional wellbeing [5][6][7] and social engagement [8]. The increase in participant HR and HRV observed during EAL in the study by Baldwin et al., 2018 [2] suggests that guided equine interactions animate older people without causing them emotional stress. ...
Article
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Assisted living is a fast-growing living option for seniors who require residence-based activities for maintaining mental and physical health. Guided equine interactions may benefit seniors, so an on-site equine program was started at Hacienda at the River senior living community. For research purposes, twenty-four residents and associates, aged fifty-five or over, consented to physiological measurements before, during and after four guided sessions of stroking one of three horses for 10 min over 4–6 weeks. Heart rate variability (HRV) was measured simultaneously in humans and horses during interactions. We hypothesized that human heart rate (HR) and HRV would increase during stroking and HRV power would shift toward the very low frequency (VLF) range common in horses, indicative of healthy function. During stroking, human HR increased (p < 0.05) but HRV (SDRR) and %VLF of HRV power did not change. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP), an exploratory measure, significantly increased after stroking, consistent with arousal. Two horses showed no significant changes in HR or HRV, but one relaxed. Sixteen horse–human pairs demonstrated synchronized HRV peak frequencies during sessions, suggestive of social connection. Participants used more positive than negative words describing their experience during exit interviews (p < 0.05). These data show that horses animate seniors without causing emotional stress and provide opportunities for social bonding.
... Human emotion refers to a complex psychological state comprising three components, i.e., user experience, physiological response, and behavioral and expressive reactions [1][2][3]. Different categories of emotional states are identified as fear, disgust, pride, happiness, anger, etc. [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]. Various studies have been conducted to find how the EEG signals correlate to human emotions [13][14][15].While reviewing the literature, we found that most of the EEG emotion recognition-based studies have used a single method to elicit emotions . ...
Article
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Most electroencephalography (EEG)-based emotion recognition systems rely on a single stimulus to evoke emotions. These systems make use of videos, sounds, and images as stimuli. Few studies have been found for self-induced emotions. The question “if different stimulus presentation paradigms for same emotion, produce any subject and stimulus independent neural correlates” remains unanswered. Furthermore, we found that there are publicly available datasets that are used in a large number of studies targeting EEG-based human emotional state recognition. Since one of the major concerns and contributions of this work is towards classifying emotions while subjects experience different stimulus-presentation paradigms, we need to perform new experiments. This paper presents a novel experimental study that recorded EEG data for three different human emotional states evoked with four different stimuli presentation paradigms. Fear, neutral, and joy have been considered as three emotional states. In this work, features were extracted with common spatial pattern (CSP) from recorded EEG data and classified through linear discriminant analysis (LDA). The considered emotion-evoking paradigms included emotional imagery, pictures, sounds, and audio–video movie clips. Experiments were conducted with twenty-five participants. Classification performance in different paradigms was evaluated, considering different spectral bands. With a few exceptions, all paradigms showed the best emotion recognition for higher frequency spectral ranges. Interestingly, joy emotions were classified more strongly as compared to fear. The average neural patterns for fear vs. joy emotional states are presented with topographical maps based on spatial filters obtained with CSP for averaged band power changes for all four paradigms. With respect to the spectral bands, beta and alpha oscillation responses produced the highest number of significant results for the paradigms under consideration. With respect to brain region, the frontal lobe produced the most significant results irrespective of paradigms and spectral bands. The temporal site also played an effective role in generating statistically significant findings. To the best of our knowledge, no study has been conducted for EEG emotion recognition while considering four different stimuli paradigms. This work provides a good contribution towards designing EEG-based system for human emotion recognition that could work effectively in different real-time scenarios.
... Porges [36][37][38] developed a theoretical model that connects autonomic (vegetative) regulation and social behaviour. According to his theory, the appearance of the behaviour and mental states related to affiliation, parenting, and intimacy are related to the emergence of the polyvagal system in evolution. ...
Article
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In this paper, utilizing the interactional research paradigm developed by Éva Bányai, we discuss the hypnotic relationship from the viewpoint of interactional synchrony. Based on our three decades of empirical studies of an interactional paradigm, we propose the analogy between hypnosis and mother–child interaction. Hypnosis is considered as a potential corrective/reparative possibility when the real childhood experiences appear to be unfavourable. Possible neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms are also suggested in the right hemispheric orbitofrontal cortex and central oxytocin system.
... Neuroception is a subconscious neuronal system for detecting "threats and safety". Though the processing of sensory information from the environment (and viscera), the mammalian nervous system continuously evaluates risk and informs on body functions (Morris et al., 1999;Porges, 2003;Porges, 2004;Porges, 2020). The response to threat can be the use of our social engagement system (SES), fight or flight reactions, or a freeze behaviour. ...
Article
The innervation of the pelvic region is complex and includes extensive neurologic pathways. The higher centres' organisation determining the pelvic floor and organs' function remains a challenge understanding the physiological and pain mechanisms. Psychological and emotional factors have a profound influence on the pelvic floor and organ dysfunction such as LUTS. LUTS are associated with stress, depression, and anxiety. Neuroception is a subconscious neuronal system for detecting threats and safety and might explain the permanent disturbance of higher brain centres maintaining functional urological and gastrointestinal disorders and sphincter dysfunction.
Chapter
Arterial hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide. It is also the most important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. The reactivity of the cardiovascular system to stressors is associated with the development of arterial hypertension. Yoga and meditative practices, including mindfulness-based interventions, provide the tools to manage this cardiovascular reactivity through restoration of psycho-physiological balance. Due to its holistic approach to the individual, the practice of yoga emphasizes cultivation of healthy habits and ways of living. Yoga and meditative practices also focus on the development of conscious awareness of the present moment, allowing perception of experiences in the most objective way, overcoming identification with the ever-changing external and internal environment, thereby reducing reactivity, improving acceptance, and restoring the body-mind equilibrium. With research evidence questioning antihypertensive drug treatment in mild hypertension, the time is ripe to implement evidence-based yoga practices accompanied with yoga’s holistic approach in mainstream healthcare. Keywords: Arterial hypertension, Blood pressure, Yoga and hypertension, Meditation, Mindfulness-based interventions, Hypertensive patients, Cardiovascular risk factors, Non-communicable diseases.
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Background Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience elevated stress during social interactions and may have difficulty forming and maintaining peer relationships. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) directs physiological changes in the body in response to a number of environmental stimuli, including social encounters. Evidence suggests the flexibility of the ANS response is an important driving factor in shaping social behavior. For youth with ASD, increased stress response and/or atypical ANS regulation to benign social encounters may therefore influence social behaviors, and, along with developmental and experiential factors, shape psychological outcomes. Methods The current study measured ANS response to a peer-based social interaction paradigm in 50 typically developing (TD) children and 50 children with ASD (ages 10–13). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a cardiac measure of parasympathetic influence on the heart, and pre-ejection period (PEP), a sympathetic indicator, were collected. Participants engaged in a friendly, face-to-face conversation with a novel, same-aged peer, and physiological data were collected continuously before and during the interaction. Participants also reported on state anxiety following the interaction, while parents reported on the child’s social functioning and number of social difficulties. Results Linear mixed models revealed that, while there were no diagnostic effects for RSA or PEP, older youth with ASD appeared to demonstrate a blunted parasympathetic (RSA) response. Further, increased severity of parent-reported social symptoms was associated with lower RSA. Youth with ASD reported more anxiety following the interaction; however, symptoms were not related to RSA or PEP response based on linear mixed modeling. Conclusions Physiological regulation, age, and social functioning likely influence stress responses to peer interactions for youth with ASD. Parasympathetic functioning, as opposed to sympathetic arousal, may be especially important in behavioral regulation, as older youth with ASD demonstrated atypical regulation and response to the social interaction paradigm. Future studies should help to further elucidate the developmental factors contributing to stress responses in ASD, the impact of physiological response on observable social behavior, and potential long-term consequences of chronic social stress in youth with ASD.
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Background: Effectiveness of heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback is dependent on the relationship between the measured respiratory-heart rate coherence (C HR) and the resonant frequency (RFB) breathing. C HR is driven by the central autonomic network which consists of the interplay between the components of the autonomic nervous system, brainstem modu-latory nuclei and cortical function. The extent to which heart rate is in coherence with respiratory frequency and the function of the central autonomic network in major depressive disorder (MDD) and suicidal ideation (SI) has not been investigated. Method: Sixty-one patients provided informed consent to participate and were divided into no MDD (CONT), MDD and an MDD plus SI (MDDSI) group. HRV activity was determined by multi lag tone-entropy (T-E) and respiratory-C HR at rest was characterized by the relationship between respiratory rate and heart rate. Results: CONT had the highest entropy compared to the MDDSI group, which had the lowest entropy and highest tone (p < 0.05). Autonomic para-sympathetic function was also significantly lower in the MDDSI compared to the MDD group (p < 0.05). C HR indicated a significant phase desynchronization (decrease in coherence) between MDDSI, MDD and CONT (p < 0.05), with MDDSI having the lowest coherence and CONT the highest. Conclusion: T-E analysis indicated that HRV was significantly different in patients with SI. C HR as measured by our proposed synchronization index provides a novel feature to adapt HRV biofeedback to individual psychiatric profiles and may provide better clinical outcomes for this patient group.
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Objective If the narrative of “coronavirus” has an underlying theme, it may perhaps for some be one of survival, whilst for others, the theme might be suffering. The recurring motif of survival has continued throughout history, yet for the first time the sum of all fears has amounted to a run on the bare essentials. This paper seeks to offer an alternative formulation of “panic buying,” with references to literature, philosophy, and contemporary neurobiology. Conclusion The bare essentials disappeared perhaps as part of some self-fulfilling prophecy: the supermarkets became bare because others inadvertently lead us to believe they would become bare. The contagion model of emotional propagation provides a psychological model of how “panic buying” by an individual might lead to the replication of panic in an observer. The Polyvagal Theory further informs us of how the threat posed by the pandemic primes our limbic system to perceive danger, and explains how witnessing others engaging in fight-flight responses might evoke a fearful affect in an observer. In the end, it is perhaps through Nietzsche’s study of classical tragedy that we may find some meaning to the pandemic, allowing our collective lived experience to serve as a template for growth.
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Background : Women with a history of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Meta-analyses report that cognitive behavioural therapies (CBTs), followed by eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are the most studied psychotherapies for trauma treatment. Focus primarily lies on individual therapy – even though some studies on group therapy for trauma treatment also exist. Few studies exist regarding other alternative therapy forms, such as art-based psychotherapies or body-focused therapies . Aim : This study investigated effects from the group music and imagery (GrpMI) method – a type of receptive music therapy – on trauma-related symptoms in women suffering from PTSD or CPTSD after physical, psychological, and/or sexual abuse . Material and methods : Using a randomized controlled parallel-group design, a sample of 45 women were either assigned to a treatment group (T) who received 12 weekly treatment sessions of GrpMI or to a waiting list control group (WLC). Self-report scales were administered immediately before and after the intervention and at a three-month follow-up . Results : A two-way mixed ANOVA showed a large group-by-time interaction effect on PTSD symptom severity (F(1, 42) = 8.68, p = .005 and Cohen's d = 0.94). A repeated-measures ANOVA showed a large effect within the T group (F(1, 20) = 16.6, p = .001, dav = 1.02), and the improvement remained at follow-up. The drop-out rate in the T group was as low as 4.5% . Conclusion : The findings suggest that GrpMI may be efficacious for treating women with PTSD/CPTSD, but further controlled studies with larger samples are warranted. The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov ([Registration number: ANONYMIZED])
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The study presented in the following verifies some assumptions of the novel ‘unsafe world’ model of selective mutism (SM). According to this model, SM is a stress reaction to situations erroneously experienced via cognition without awareness as ‘unsafe’. It assumes a high sensitivity to unsafety, whereby the nervous system triggers dissociation or freeze mode at relatively low thresholds. We examine whether there is a correlation between SM, sensory-processing sensitivity and dissociation. We compared a sample of 28 children and adolescents with SM (mean age 12.66 years; 18 females) to 33 controls without SM (mean age 12.45 years; 21 females). Both groups were compared using a medical history sheet, the ‘Selective Mutism Questionnaire’ (SMQ), a ‘Checklist for Speaking Behaviour’ (CheckS), the ‘Highly Sensitive Person Scale’ (HSPS), the ‘Child Dissociative Checklist’ (CDC), the ‘Adolescent Dissociative Experience Scale’ (A-DES) and the ‘Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory for Children’ (SPAIK). Appropriate parametric and non-parametric tests were conducted to examine differences between groups. The results indicate that sensory-processing sensitivity was significantly higher in the group of children and adolescents with SM [ X ² (1) = 7.224, p = 0.0007; d = 1.092]. Furthermore, dissociative symptoms were more common in children and adolescents with SM than in controls [ F (1, 33) = 13.004, p = 0.001; d = 0.986]. The results indicate that sensory-processing sensitivity and dissociation are important factors of SM that may hold important implications for the treatment. Trial Registration This study is registered with the ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT04233905.
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Advances in the field of social network analysis facilitate the creation of multiplex networks where several interaction types can be analysed simultaneously. In order to test the potential benefits of this approach, we investigated the sociability of atypically raised chimpanzees by constructing and analysing 4-layered multiplex networks of two groups of former pet and entertainment chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). These networks are based on four social interaction types (stationary vicinity, affiliative behaviour, allogrooming, passive close proximity) representing low- to high-level interaction types in terms of sociability. Using the tools provided by the MuxViz software, we could assess and compare the similarity and information gain of each these social interaction types. We found some social interaction types to be more similar than other ones. However, each social interaction type imparted different information. We also tested for a possible impact of the chimpanzees’ biographical background on the social interaction types and found affiliative behaviour as well as allogrooming to be affected by adverse early life experiences. We conclude that this multiplex approach provides a more realistic framework giving detailed insight into the sociability of these chimpanzees and can function as a tool to support captive care management decisions.
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Purpose: This experimental cross-sectional research study examined the emotional reactivity and emotion regulation in preschool-age children who do (CWS) and do not stutter (CWNS) by assessing their psychophysiological response during rest and while viewing pictures from the International Affective Picture System (Lang et al., 2008 ). Method: Participants were 18 CWS (16 boys and two girls; mean age 4 years, 5 months) and 18 age- and gender-matched CWNS. Participants' psychophysiological responses were measured during two baselines and two picture viewing conditions. Skin conductance level (SCL) and heart rate were measured to assess emotional reactivity. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was measured to assess emotional regulation. Participants' shyness and executive function were assessed via parent report and considered for their effects on participants' psychophysiological responses. Results: First, CWNS and CWS did not differ in their initial baseline SCL, heart rate, or RSA, but all participants had higher SCL and lower RSA in the second baseline, subsequent to the first challenge condition, compared to the first baseline. Second, during the challenge conditions, CWS did not differ from CWNS in their SCL, but showed a significantly higher heart rate than CWNS. Third, CWS exhibited a significantly lower RSA during the challenge conditions compared to CWNS. Lastly, the temperamental quality of shyness was associated with preschool-age children's SCL, such that participants who were rated higher in shyness had a higher SCL during the challenge conditions. Participants' executive function had a marginally significant effect on the RSA, such that the participants who had higher executive function composite scores exhibited lower RSA during the challenge conditions. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that CWS and CWNS did not differ in their emotional reactivity and emotional regulation abilities at rest. During challenge conditions, however, CWS tended to be more emotionally reactive, as indicated by a higher heart rate, and also employed more emotional regulation, indexed by a greater decrease in RSA, compared to CWNS. Preschool-age children's behavior is largely dominated by reactivity, but there is the emergence of regulation, which can help children adjust to various contextual demands. For CWS who are more emotionally reactive, regulatory skills may be particularly critical to their prognosis and treatment.
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We explore complex dynamic patterns of autonomic physiological linkage (i.e., statistical interdependence of partner’s physiology; PL), within the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (SNS and PNS), as potential correlates of emotional and regulatory dynamics in close relationships. We include electrodermal activity (EDA) as an indicator of SNS activation and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) as an indicator of regulatory and/or homeostatic processes within the PNS. Measures of EDA and RSA were collected in 10-second increments from 53 heterosexual couples during a mixed-emotion conversation in the laboratory. We used the R statistical package, rties (Butler & Barnard, 2019), to model the dynamics of EDA and RSA with a coupled oscillator model and then categorized couples into qualitatively distinct profiles based on the set of parameters that emerged. We identified two patterns for EDA and three patterns for RSA. We then investigated associations between the PL patterns and self-report measures of relationship and conversation quality and emotional valence using Bayesian multilevel and logistic regression models. Overall, we found robust results indicating that PL profiles were credibly predicted by valence and relationship quality reported prior to the conversations. In contrast, we found very little evidence suggesting that PL patterns predict self-reported conversation quality or valence following the conversation. Together, these results suggest that PL across autonomic subsystems may reflect different processes and therefore have different implications when considering interpersonal dynamics.
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This study aimed to assess the role of insecure attachment style, cultural humility, and therapeutic presence in the development of therapeutic alliance in a sample of adults with a history of childhood interpersonal trauma (N = 251). Multiple regression analyses indicated that cultural humility, therapeutic presence, and lower levels of attachment anxiety together accounted for 66.6% of the variance in therapeutic alliance. Implications for counselors, limitations, and directions for future research are provided.
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Autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity is a fundamental component of emotional responding. It is not clear, however, whether positive emotional states are associated with differential ANS reactivity. To address this issue, we conducted a meta-analytic review of 120 articles (686 effect sizes, total N = 6,546), measuring ANS activity during 11 elicited positive emotions, namely amusement, attachment love, awe, contentment, craving, excitement, gratitude, joy, nurturant love, pride, and sexual desire. We identified a widely dispersed collection of studies. Univariate results indicated that positive emotions produce no or weak and highly variable increases in ANS reactivity. However, the limitations of work to date – which we discuss – mean that our conclusions should be treated as empirically grounded hypotheses that future research should validate.
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Emotional crying has been extensively discussed but has concentrated on crying as a result of negative emotion. There are few psychological and neurophysiological findings on the effect of positive emotion on crying. In this study, participants watched four videos (two positive and two negative) evoking different emotions. We investigated whether emotional crying differed in mood and physiological response. Changes in electrodermal activity, high-frequency components of heart rate variability, and the Profile of Mood States were measured as indicators of mood, parasympathetic, and sympathetic nerve activity. Those who cried showed no significant increase in parasympathetic activity compared to those who did not, regardless of the emotion. However, in negative emotion, crying was found to be significantly positively associated with depression and sympathetic nerve activity. In contrast, positive emotion, crying was positively and significantly associated with vigor, but not with sympathetic nervous activity. These results suggest that crying due to positive and negative emotions may be derived from different psychophysiological mechanisms.
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Background There is limited knowledge on the physiological and behavioral pathways that may affect the developmental outcomes of preterm infants and particularly on the link between autonomic nervous system maturation and early social human behavior. Thus, this study attempts to investigate the way heart rate variability (HRV) parameters are related to emotional coordination in interactions of preterm and full-term infants with their parents in the first year of life and the possible correlation with the developmental outcomes of infants at 18 months. Objective The first objective is to investigate the relationship between emotional coordination and HRV in dyadic full-term infant–parent (group 1) and preterm infant–parent (group 2) interactions during the first postpartum year. The second objective is to examine the relationship of emotional coordination and HRV in groups 1 and 2 in the first postpartum year with the developmental outcomes of infants at 18 months. The third objective is to investigate the effect of maternal and paternal postnatal depression on the relation between emotional coordination and HRV in the two groups and on developmental outcomes at 18 months. The fourth objective is to examine the effect of family cohesion and coping on the relation between emotional coordination and HRV in the two groups and on developmental outcomes at 18 months. Methods This is an observational, naturalistic, and longitudinal study applying a mixed method design that includes the following: (1) video recordings of mother-infant and father-infant interactions at the hospital, in the neonatal period, and at home at 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months of the infants’ life; (2) self-report questionnaires of parents on depressive symptoms, family cohesion, and dyadic coping of stress; (3) infants’ HRV parameters in the neonatal period and at each of the above age points during and after infant-parent video recordings; and (4) assessment of toddlers’ social and cognitive development at 18 months through an observational instrument. Results The study protocol has been approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the University of Crete (number/date: 170/September 18, 2020). This work is supported by the Special Account for Research Funds of the University of Crete (grant number: 10792-668/08.02.2021). All mothers (with their partners) of full-term and preterm infants who give birth between March 2021 and January 2022 at the General University Hospital of Crete (northern Crete, Greece) will be invited to participate. The researcher will invite the parents of infants to participate in the study 1 to 2 days after birth. Data collection is expected to be completed by March 2023, and the first results will be published by the end of 2023. Conclusions Investigating the regulatory role of HRV and social reciprocity in preterm infants may have implications for both medicine and psychology. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) PRR1-10.2196/28089
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Successful social interaction partly depends on appraisal of others from their facial appearance. A critical aspect of this appraisal relates to whether we consider others to be trustworthy. We determined the neural basis for such trustworthiness judgments using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging. Subjects viewed faces and assessed either trustworthiness or age. In a parametric factorial design, trustworthiness ratings were correlated with BOLD signal change to reveal task-independent increased activity in bilateral amygdala and right insula in response to faces judged untrustworthy. Right superior temporal sulcus (STS) showed enhanced signal change during explicit trustworthiness judgments alone. The findings extend a proposed model of social cognition by highlighting a functional dissociation between automatic engagement of amygdala versus intentional engagement of STS in social judgment.
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Attention gates the processing of stimuli relatively early in visual cortex. Yet, existing data suggest that emotional stimuli activate brain regions automatically, largely immune from attentional control. To resolve this puzzle, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to first measure activation in regions that responded differentially to faces with emotional expressions (fearful and happy) compared with neutral faces. We then measured the modulation of these responses by attention, using a competing task with a high attentional load. Contrary to the prevailing view, all brain regions responding differentially to emotional faces, including the amygdala, did so only when sufficient attentional resources were available to process the faces. Thus, the processing of facial expression appears to be under top-down control.
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Bilateral electrolytic lesions of the lateral and ventrolateral caudal periaqueductal gray (cPAGl,vl) of lactating rats are known to severely reduce suckling-induced kyphosis (upright crouched nursing), which is necessary for maximal litter weight gains, and impair sexual behavior during the postpartum estrous, while heightening nursing in other postures and attacks on unfamiliar adult male intruders. In the present report, the site specificity of the cPAG with respect to the control of these behaviors was determined by comparing lesions of the cPAGl,vl with similarly sized lesions within the rostral PAG (rPAG) and surrounding mesencephalon. The previously seen effects of prepartum cPAGl,vl lesions on kyphotic nursing, sexual proceptivity and receptivity, maternal aggression, and daily litter weight gains were replicated. Additionally, the post-lesion facilitation of aggression was found to be behaviorally specific, first by being directed toward an adult, but not to a nonthreatening juvenile male rat, and second, by requiring the recent presence of the pups, being eliminated or decreased 24 h after removal of the litter. Damage to the rPAG did not affect nursing or sexual behaviors, and had only a minimal effect on maternal aggression. Lesions of the rPAG, however, greatly impaired the dams' ability to rapidly release pups held in the mouth, but not to pick them up or carry them directly to the nest during retrieval. Separate regions of the PAG, therefore, are differentially involved in the control of specific components of behaviors in lactating rats.
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The evolution of the autonomic nervous system provides an organizing principle to interpret the adaptive significance of mammalian affective processes including courting, sexual arousal, copulation, and the establishment of enduring social bonds. According to the Polyvagal Theory (Porges, 1995, 1996, 1997), the well-documented phylogenetic shift in the neural regulation of the autonomic nervous system passes through three stages, each with an associated behavioral strategy. The first stage is characterized by a primitive unmyelinated visceral vagus that fosters digestion and responds to threat by depressing metabolic activity. Behaviorally, the first stage is associated with immobilization behaviors. The second stage is characterized by the sympathetic nervous system that is capable of increasing metabolic output and inhibiting the visceral vagus to foster mobilization behaviors necessary for 'fight or flight'. The third stage, unique to mammals, is characterized by a myelinated vagus that can rapidly regulate cardiac output to foster engagement and disengagement with the environment. The mammalian vagus is neuroanatomically linked to the cranial nerves that regulate social engagement via facial expression and vocalization. The Polyvagal Theory provides neurobiological explanations for two dimensions of intimacy: courting and the establishment of enduring pair-bonds. Courting is dependent upon the social engagement strategies associated with the mammalian vagus. The establishment of enduring pair-bonds is dependent upon a co-opting of the visceral vagus from an immobilization system associated with fear and avoidance to an immobilization system associated with safety and trust. The theory proposes that the phylogenetic development of the mammalian vagus is paralleled by a specialized communication, via oxytocin and vasopressin, between the hypothalamus and the medullary source nuclei of the viscera vagus, which facilitates sexual arousal, copulation, and the development of enduring pair-bonds.
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The purpose of this paper is to review existing behavioral and neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Both love and social attachments function to facilitate reproduction, provide a sense of safety, and reduce anxiety or stress. Because social attachment is an essential component of love, understanding attachment formation is an important step toward identifying the neurobiological substrates of love. Studies of pair bonding in monogamous rodents, such as prairie voles, and maternal attachment in precocial ungulates offer the most accessible animal models for the study of mechanisms underlying selective social attachments and the propensity to develop social bonds. Parental behavior and sexual behavior, even in the absence of selective social behaviors, are associated with the concept of love; the analysis of reproductive behaviors, which is far more extensive than our understanding of social attachment, also suggests neuroendocrine substrates for love. A review of these literatures reveals a recurrent association between high levels of activity in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and the subsequent expression of social behaviors and attachments. Positive social behaviors, including social bonds, may reduce HPA axis activity, while in some cases negative social interactions can have the opposite effect. Central neuropeptides, and especially oxytocin and vasopressin have been implicated both in social bonding and in the central control of the HPA axis. In prairie voles, which show clear evidence of pair bonds, oxytocin is capable of increasing positive social behaviors and both oxytocin and social interactions reduce activity in the HPA axis. Social interactions and attachment involve endocrine systems capable of decreasing HPA reactivity and modulating the autonomic nervous system, perhaps accounting for health benefits that are attributed to loving relationships.
Article
It is difficult to think of any behavioural process that is more intrinsically important to us than attachment. Feeding, sleeping and locomotion are all necessary for survival, but humans are, as Baruch Spinoza famously noted, "a social animal" and it is our social attachments that we live for. Over the past decade, studies in a range of vertebrates, including humans, have begun to address the neural basis of attachment at a molecular, cellular and systems level. This review describes some of the important insights from this work.
Article
The evolution of the autonomic nervous system provides an organizing principle to interpret the adaptive significance of physiological responses in promoting social behavior. According to the polyvagal theory, the well-documented phylogenetic shift in neural regulation of the autonomic nervous system passes through three global stages, each with an associated behavioral strategy. The first stage is characterized by a primitive unmyelinated visceral vagus that fosters digestion and responds to threat by depressing metabolic activity. Behaviorally, the first stage is associated with immobilization behaviors. The second stage is characterized by the sympathetic nervous system that is capable of increasing metabolic output and inhibiting the visceral vagus to foster mobilization behaviors necessary for 'fight or flight'. The third stage, unique to mammals, is characterized by a myelinated vagus that can rapidly regulate cardiac output to foster engagement and disengagement with the environment. The mammalian vagus is neuroanatomically linked to the cranial nerves that regulate social engagement via facial expression and vocalization. As the autonomic nervous system changed through the process of evolution, so did the interplay between the autonomic nervous system and the other physiological systems that respond to stress, including the cortex, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the neuropeptides of oxytocin and vasopressin, and the immune system. From this phylogenetic orientation, the polyvagal theory proposes a biological basis for social behavior and an intervention strategy to enhance positive social behavior.
Article
All animals, including humans, react with distinct emotional coping strategies to different types of stress. Active coping strategies (e.g. confrontation, fight, escape) are evoked if the stressor is controllable or escapable. Passive coping strategies (e.g. quiescence, immobility, decreased responsiveness to the environment) are usually elicited if the stressor is inescapable and help to facilitate recovery and healing. Neural substrates mediating active versus passive emotional coping have been identified within distinct, longitudinal neuronal columns of the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) region. Active coping is evoked by activation of either the dorsolateral or lateral columns of the PAG; whereas passive coping is triggered by activation of the ventrolateral PAG. Recent anatomical studies indicate that each PAG column receives a distinctive set of ascending (spinal and medullary) and descending (prefrontal cortical and hypothalamic) afferents. Consistent with the anatomy, functional studies using immediate early gene expression (c-fos) as a marker of neuronal activation have revealed that the preferential activation of a specific PAG column reflects (i) the type of emotional coping reaction triggered, and (ii) whether a physical or psychological stressor was used.
Article
A new event-related fMRI study suggests that decisions about trustworthiness involve structures that process emotions, and raises intriguing questions about cues used for such judgments.
Article
To determine whether signs of disordered attachment were greater in young children being reared in more socially depriving caregiving environments. Three groups of children were studied by means of structured interviews with caregivers that were administered over several months in Bucharest, Romania, in 1999: (1) 32 toddlers living in a typical unit (standard care) in a large institution in Bucharest; (2) 29 toddlers living in the same institution on a 'pilot unit" designed to reduce the number of adults caring for each child; and (3) 33 toddlers living at home who had never been institutionalized. The presence of attachment disorders and other behavioral problems was assessed by caregiver/ parent report. Children on the typical unit (standard care) had significantly more signs of disordered attachment than children in the other two groups. Both the emotionally withdrawn and the indiscriminately social pattern of attachment disorder were apparent in these children, but cluster analysis suggested that mixed patterns are more typical. The continuum of caretaking casualty is reflected by increasing signs of disordered attachment in toddlers living in more socially depriving environments.
Article
Numerous studies have implicated oxytocin (OT) and oxytocin receptors in the central mediation of social cognition and social behavior. Much of our understanding of OT's central effects depends on pharmacological studies with OT agonists and antagonists. Recently, our knowledge of OT's effects has been extended by the development of oxytocin knockout (OTKO) mice. Mice with a null mutation of the OT gene manifest several interesting cognitive and behavioral changes, only some of which were predicted by pharmacological studies. Contrary to studies in rats, mice do not appear to require OT for normal sexual or maternal behavior, though OT is necessary for the milk ejection reflex during lactation. OTKO pups thrive if raised by a lactating female, but OTKO pups emit fewer ultrasonic vocalizations with maternal separation and OTKO adults are more aggressive than WT mice. Remarkably, OTKO mice fail to recognize familiar conspecifics after repeated social encounters, though olfactory and non-social memory functions appear to be intact. Central OT administration into the amygdala restores social recognition. The development of transgenic mice with specific deficits in social memory represents a promising approach to examine the cellular and neural systems of social cognition. These studies may provide valuable new perspectives on diseases characterized by social deficits, such as autism or reactive attachment disorder.
Article
Tonic immobility (TI), also known as death feigning or animal hypnosis, is a reversible state of motor inhibition that is triggered by postural inversion and/or movement restraining maneuvers but also by repetitive stimulation and pressure on body parts. Our previous studies demonstrated that cholinergic stimulation of the central amygdala (CEA) decreases the duration of TI in guinea pigs. Some reports have demonstrated that electrical or chemical stimulation of the CEA promotes antinociception. Evidence suggests that the CEA performs part of its functions by means of a connection with the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG). In the current study, we investigated the participation of a possible functional and anatomical CEA-vlPAG connection in guinea pigs in the regulation of the TI response and antinociception. Our results showed that the functional CEA-vlPAG connection is essential for the participation of the CEA in the modulation of TI and of antinociception. The reversible exclusion of the vlPAG by means of microinjection of 2% lidocaine blocked the inhibitory effect on TI duration and the antinociceptive effect, as determined by a decrease of the vocalization index (VI) obtained with the administration of carbachol (2.7 nmol/0.2 microl) into the CEA. On the other hand, the exclusion of the CEA by lidocaine did not block the antinociception or the increase in TI induced by microinjection of CCh into the vlPAG. Finally, microinjection of the retrograde neurotracer Fast Blue into the CEA or into the vlPAG demonstrated the existence of a reciprocal anatomical connection between the CEA and vlPAG.
Article
The current study investigated respiration and heart rate in two species of reptiles with distinct behavioral strategies: (1) the Sudan plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus major), a sit-and-wait predator; and (2) the Savanna monitor (Varanus exanthematicus), an intensive forager. It was hypothesized that (a) the plated lizard would not express respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and (b) the monitor, a reptile with behavioral and physiological characteristics similar to mammals, might express respiratory sinus arrhythmia, a pattern previously observed only in mammals. The data demonstrated that although there were strong vagal influences on the heart, respiratory activity was not manifested in the heart rate pattern of the plated lizards. In contrast, the monitor exhibited a reliable ventilatory influence on the heart rate pattern, although the pattern differed from the respiratory sinus arrhythmia observed in mammals. Consistent with the Polyvagal Theory (), the vagal control of the reptilian heart in both species appears to be mediated through the phylogenetically older unmyelinated system, a system that evolved to support metabolic conservation and not social behavior.
Article
A phenomenon of sudden death has been described that occurs in man, rats, and many other animals apparently as a result of hopelessness; this seems to involve overactivity primarily of the parasympathetic system. In this instance as in many others, the ideas of Walter Cannon opened up a new area of interesting, exciting research. Copyright (C) 1957 by American Psychosomatic Society
Article
Living organisms have regular patterns and routines that involve obtaining food and carrying out life history stages such as breeding, migrating, molting, and hibernating. The acquisition, utilization, and storage of energy reserves (and other resources) are critical to lifetime reproductive success. There are also responses to predictable changes, e.g., seasonal, and unpredictable challenges, i.e., storms and natural disasters. Social organization in many populations provides advantages through cooperation in providing basic necessities and beneficial social support. But there are disadvantages owing to conflict in social hierarchies and competition for resources. Here we discuss the concept of allostasis, maintaining stability through change, as a fundamental process through which organisms actively adjust to both predictable and unpredictable events. Allostatic load refers to the cumulative cost to the body of allostasis, with allostatic overload being a state in which serious pathophysiology can occur. Using the balance between energy input and expenditure as the basis for applying the concept of allostasis, we propose two types of allostatic overload. Type 1 allostatic overload occurs when energy demand exceeds supply, resulting in activation of the emergency life history stage. This serves to direct the animal away from normal life history stages into a survival mode that decreases allostatic load and regains positive energy balance. The normal life cycle can be resumed when the perturbation passes. Type 2 allostatic overload begins when there is sufficient or even excess energy consumption accompanied by social conflict and other types of social dysfunction. The latter is the case in human society and certain situations affecting animals in captivity. In all cases, secretion of glucocorticosteroids and activity of other mediators of allostasis such as the autonomic nervous system, CNS neurotransmitters, and inflammatory cytokines wax and wane with allostatic load. If allostatic load is chronically high, then pathologies develop. Type 2 allostatic overload does not trigger an escape response, and can only be counteracted through learning and changes in the social structure.
Offspring-induced nurturance: animal-human parallels
  • Stern
The neurobiology of attachment
  • T.R. Insel
Attachment disturbances in young children
  • Smyke
The concept of allostasis in biology and biomedicine
  • McEwen