The impact of emotions on the sensory and affective dimension of perceived dyspnea


Address reprint requests to: Dr. Andreas von Leupoldt, Psychological Institute III, University of Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 5, 20146 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail:


Dyspnea is an impairing symptom in various diseases. Recent research has shown that the perception of dyspnea, like pain, consists of a sensory (intensity) and an affective (unpleasantness) dimension, but little is known about the specific impact of different emotions on these distinct dimensions. We therefore examined the impact of viewing affective picture series of positive, neutral, and negative valence on perceived dyspnea during resistive load breathing in healthy volunteers. Inspiratory time (Ti), breathing frequency (f), and oscillatory resistance (Ros) remained unchanged across conditions. Ratings for unpleasantness of dyspnea increased from positive to neutral to negative series, but ratings for intensity of dyspnea showed no changes. The results suggest that the affective dimension of the perception of dyspnea is particularly vulnerable to emotional influences, irrespective of objective lung function.