Blood pressure reaction to negative stimuli: Insights from continuous recording and analysis

Avigail Wiener, Pavel Goldstein, Oren Alkoby, Keren Doenyas, Hadas Okon-Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals with a tendency toward abnormally enhanced cardiovascular responses to stress are at greater risk of developing essential hypertension later in life. Accurate profiling of continuous blood pressure (BP) reactions in healthy populations is crucial for understanding normal and abnormal emotional reaction patterns. To this end, we examined the continuous time course of BP reactions to aversive pictures among healthy participants. In two experiments, we showed participants negative and neutral pictures while simultaneously measuring their continuous BP and heart rate (HR) reactions. In this study, BP reactions were analyzed continuously, in contrast to previous studies, in which BP responses were averaged across blocks. To compare time points along a temporal continuum, we applied a multi-level B-spline model, which is innovative in the context of BP analysis. Additionally, HR was similarly analyzed in order to examine its correlation with BP. Both experiments revealed a similar pattern of BP reactivity and association with HR. In line with previous studies, a decline in BP and HR levels was found in response to negative pictures compared to neutral pictures. In addition, in both conditions, we found an unexpected elevation of BP toward the end of the stimuli exposure period. These findings may be explained by the recruitment of attention resources in the presence of negative stimuli, which is alleviated toward the end of the stimulation. This study highlights the importance of continuous measurement and analysis for characterizing the time course of BP reactivity to emotional stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13525
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • General Neuroscience


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