Autonomic nervous system flexibility for understanding brain aging

Author: Feng V Lin1, Kathi L Heffner2
1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University; Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Stanford University. Electronic address:
2 School of Nursing, University of Rochester; Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester; Department of Medicine, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester.
Conference/Journal: Ageing Res Rev
Date published: 2023 Jul 15
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2023.102016. , Word Count: 163

A recent call was made for autonomic nervous system (ANS) measures as digital health markers for early detection of Alzheimer's disease and related dementia (AD/ADRD). Nevertheless, contradictory or inconclusive findings exist. To help advance understanding of ANS' role in dementia, we draw upon aging and dementia-related literature, and propose a framework that centers on the role of ANS flexibility to guide future work on application of ANS function to differentiating the degree and type of dementia-related brain pathologies. We first provide a brief review of literature within the past 10 years on ANS and dementia-related brain pathologies. Next, we present an ANS flexibility model, describing how the model can be applied to understand these brain pathologies, as well as differentiate or even be leveraged to modify typical brain aging and dementia. Lastly, we briefly discuss the implication of the model for understanding resilience and vulnerability to dementia-related outcomes.

Keywords: Autonomic nervous system flexibility; adaptation; brain aging; dementia pathologies; interoception.

PMID: 37459967 DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2023.102016