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Volume 45 Number 3, 2008
   Pages 451 — 464

Abstract - Right anterior cingulate cortical volume covaries with respiratory sinus arrhythmia magnitude in combat veterans

Steven H. Woodward, PhD;1* Danny G . Kaloupek, PhD;2-3 Marie Schaer, MD, PhD;4-5 Christelle Martinez, MA;4 Stephan Eliez, MD4,6

1Dissemination and Training Division, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System and National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Palo Alto, CA; 2Behavioral Science Division, VA Boston Healthcare System and National Center for PTSD, Boston, MA; 3Division of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; 4Department of Psychiatry, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; 5Signal Processing Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland; 6Department of Genetic Medicine and Development, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract — Existing data suggest anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays a role in autonomic regulation. In persons with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autonomic regulation appears impaired and smaller mean ACC volume has been reported. This study examined relationships between ACC volume and the magnitude of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) in 77 U.S. combat veterans at rest, 40 of whom met criteria for PTSD. RSA magnitude did not differ in combat survivors with and without PTSD, which contradicts studies comparing civilians with PTSD to nontraumatized controls. RSA magnitude was positively correlated with right but not left hemisphere ACC volume. This finding was statistically independent of the presence or absence of PTSD.

Key words: autonomic denervation, cardiac chronotropy, gyrus cinguli, heart rate variability, insular cortex, magnetic resonance imaging, posttraumatic, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, stress disorders, vagotomy.

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