Oscillatory Coupling Between Neural and Cardiac Rhythms

Author: Kaia S Sargent1, Emily L Martinez1, Alexandra C Reed1, Anika Guha1, Morgan E Bartholomew1, Caroline K Diehl1, Christine S Chang1, Sarah Salama1, Tzvetan Popov2,3, Julian F Thayer4, Gregory A Miller1,5, Cindy M Yee1,5
1 Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles.
2 Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz.
3 Department of Psychology, University of Zurich.
4 Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine.
5 Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles.
Conference/Journal: Psychol Sci
Date published: 2024 Apr 3
Other: Pages: 9567976241235932 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/09567976241235932. , Word Count: 157

Oscillations serve a critical role in organizing biological systems. In the brain, oscillatory coupling is a fundamental mechanism of communication. The possibility that neural oscillations interact directly with slower physiological rhythms (e.g., heart rate, respiration) is largely unexplored and may have important implications for psychological functioning. Oscillations in heart rate, an aspect of heart rate variability (HRV), show remarkably robust associations with psychological health. Mather and Thayer proposed coupling between high-frequency HRV (HF-HRV) and neural oscillations as a mechanism that partially accounts for such relationships. We tested this hypothesis by measuring phase-amplitude coupling between HF-HRV and neural oscillations in 37 healthy adults at rest. Robust coupling was detected in all frequency bands. Granger causality analyses indicated stronger heart-to-brain than brain-to-heart effects in all frequency bands except gamma. These findings suggest that cardiac rhythms play a causal role in modulating neural oscillations, which may have important implications for mental health.

Keywords: cognitive neuroscience; electrophysiology; human body.

PMID: 38568870 DOI: 10.1177/09567976241235932