Vascular responses to fear-induced stress in humans

Naoyuki Hayashi, Nami Someya, Toru Maruyama, Yoshitaka Hirooka, Masako Yamaoka Endo, Yoshiyuki Fukuba

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)


    The information about the effect of mental activities on detailed cardiovascular responses is limited, though strong and chronic psychological stressors are risk factors of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in humans. The responses of vascular resistance (VR) during fear-induced stress was studied by measuring the mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), skin blood flow in the index finger and forehead, limb blood flow in the calf and forearm, and blood flow in the renal and superior mesenteric arteries before, during, and after a period of induced fear. After 2 min of rest, baseline data were acquired from eight subjects, after which they watched a 3-min video that was considered to be frightening. Minute-by-minute data were calculated. The MAP was divided by the blood flow to attain the VR. While a clear steady state was not evident in the stress-induced vascular response, stress significantly increased the MAP and HR (e.g., by 10 ± 3 mm Hg and 8 ± 3 bpm, respectively, at the 2nd min; mean ± SEM), and the VR of the forearm and finger skin (e.g., by 80 ± 26% and 79 ± 28%, respectively, at the 2nd min). The VR increased slightly in the calf and visceral arteries but not in the forehead throughout the stimulation. The variables returned to baseline levels by the 1st min after cessation of the fearful stimulation. These results suggest that fear-induced stress causes vasoconstriction in the forearm and finger.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)441-446
    Number of pages6
    JournalPhysiology and Behavior
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 19 2009

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Behavioral Neuroscience


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