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Abstract #1302

Causal brain correlates of autonomic nervous system outflow

Andrea Duggento 1 , Marta Bianciardi 2 , Lawrence L. Wald 2 , Luca Passamonti 3 , Riccardo Barbieri 4,5 , Maria Guerrisi 1 , and Nicola Toschi 1,2

1 Medical Physics Section, Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy, 2 Department of Radiology, A.A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, MGH and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States, 3 Institute of Bioimaging and Molecular Physiology, National Research Council, Catanzaro, Italy, 4 Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, United States, 5 Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States

We use 7T fMRI with simultaneous physiological signals acquisitions to investigate the causal interactions between resting state brain activity and autonomic nervous system (ANS) outflow as quantified through a probabilistic heartbeat model. We demonstrate the existence of significant causal links between cortical/subcortical brain regions and ANS outflow for (para)sympathetic modulation as well as sympathovagal balance, with a prominent involvement of cerebellar regions and Sensory Motor, Default Mode, Left executive and Right executive networks. 7T functional imaging coupled with Granger causality estimates is able to quantify directed brain-heart interactions reflecting directed central modulation of ANS outflow.

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