Quantifying multidimensional control mechanisms of cardiovascular dynamics during multiple concurrent stressors


Heartbeat regulation is achieved through different routes originating from central autonomic network sources, as well as peripheral control mechanisms. While previous studies successfully characterized cardiovascular regulatory mechanisms during a single stressor, to the best of our knowledge, a combination of multiple concurrent elicitations leading to the activation of different autonomic regulatory routes has not been investigated yet. Therefore, in this study, we propose a novel modeling framework for the quantification of heartbeat regulatory mechanisms driven by different neural routes. The framework is evaluated using two heartbeat datasets gathered from healthy subjects undergoing physical and mental stressors, as well as their concurrent administration. Experimental results indicate that more than 70% of the heartbeat regulatory dynamics is driven by the physical stressor when combining physical and cognitive/emotional stressors. The proposed framework provides quantitative insights and novel perspectives for neural activity on cardiac control dynamics, likely highlighting new biomarkers in the psychophysiology and physiopathology fields. A Matlab implementation of the proposed tool is available online.

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    An implementation of the model can be found at https://github.com/shadishadi72/Disentangling-model-.git


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This project has received partial funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 722022 “AffecTech”. Moreover, this work is also partially supported by the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR) in the framework of the CrossLab project (Departments of Excellence). MJ was supported by the grants APVV-0235-12, VEGA 1/0117/17, VEGA 1/0200/19 and VEGA 1/0200/20.

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Correspondence to Shadi Ghiasi.

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Ghiasi, S., Greco, A., Faes, L. et al. Quantifying multidimensional control mechanisms of cardiovascular dynamics during multiple concurrent stressors. Med Biol Eng Comput 59, 775–785 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11517-020-02311-9

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  • Heart rate variability
  • Central autonomic network
  • Cold pressor test
  • Tilt test
  • Emotion elicitation
  • Stress