1408 Neural and Behavioral Pathways Linking Stress and Cardiovascular Disease in Humans

Friday, February 19, 2010: 9:10 AM
Room 2 (San Diego Convention Center)
Peter J. Gianaros , University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
A person's tendency to show exaggerated or otherwise dysregulated cardiovascular reactions to acute stressors has long been associated with increased risk for clinical and preclinical endpoints of cardiovascular disease. However, the neurobehavioral pathways that link stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactions to disease risk remain poorly defined. This presentation will review a line of human neuroimaging research indicating that individual differences in one form of cardiovascular reactivity—blood pressure reactivity—vary with the functional and structural characteristics of a network of brain areas that are involved in processing stressors and regulating the cardiovascular system. Evidence will also be reviewed indicating that individual differences in the functional activity of two corticolimbic areas—the amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex—are associated with preclinical atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries. Contextually, this research will be offered as one example of how imaging neuroscience methods can help define the ‘brain-body’ pathways that link stressful experiences and health.