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Keywords:

  • Blood pressure;
  • Cardiovascular reactivity;
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging;
  • Stress

Abstract

The anterior cingulate cortex presumptively regulates blood pressure reactions to behavioral stressors. There is little evidence in humans, however, that stressor-evoked changes in blood pressure correlate with concurrent changes in anterior cingulate activity. Using fMRI, we tested whether changes in mean arterial blood pressure correlate with ongoing changes in blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) activation in 9 women and 11 men who completed a stressful Stroop color-word interference task. Higher mean arterial pressure during the Stroop task correlated with greater BOLD activation in two regions of the cingulate cortex (perigenual and mid-anterior) and in other networked brain regions, including the insula, thalamus, and periaqueductal gray. These results support the hypothesis that the anterior cingulate cortex regulates blood pressure reactions to behavioral stressors in humans.