The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Stefan Koelsch

Human cardiac biomarkers of personality, disorders, and diseases

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Stefan Koelsch
Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen

The activity of the heart is influenced by psychological processes via the brain-heart axis. In particular, regional cardiac function is modulated by the activity of neurons within the cardiac nerve plexus, which are influenced via several pathways, such as autonomic activity, endocrine activity, and blood pressure. Brain structures controlling these pathways include both brainstem nuclei and forebrain structures such as amygdala, insula, and orbitofrontal cortex. These brain structures are neurobiological substrates of emotions (amygdala and insula) and affective traits (orbitofrontal cortex). Thus, emotions and affective traits have modulatory influence on regional cardiac activity. In this talk, I will present a method, developed by my group over the past decade, using cardiac signals (such as amplitude signals of the electrocardiogram, ECG) as biomarkers for emotions and affective traits. I will review studies investigating associations between such cardiac biomarkers and brain activity, and present recent data on cardiac biomarkers of diseases and disorders with affective components, such as chronic diseases of the immune system, or depression.

Chairperson: Kenneth Hugdahl, Department of Biological and Medical Psychology