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Thermotherapy to the facial region in and around the eyelids altered prefrontal hemodynamic responses and autonomic nervous activity during mental arithmetic


  • This work was supported partly by JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) Asian Core Program, and the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) (22240051) awarded to Hisao Nishijo.

Address correspondence to: Dr. Hisao Nishijo, System Emotional Science, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Sugitani 2630, Toyama 930-0194, Japan. E-mail:


To investigate neural mechanisms of local thermotherapy to reduce mental stress, participants were required to perform mental arithmetic after treatment by a heat- and steam-generating sheet on the facial eyelid region while hemodynamic activity and ECGs were monitored. The results indicated that thermotherapy decreased hemodynamic activity in the anterior dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (aDMPFC) involved in sympathetic activity. Consistently, thermotherapy increased parasympathetic activity while it decreased sympathetic activity. Furthermore, thermotherapy increased hemodynamic activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during mental arithmetic. These hemodynamic responses in the DLPFC during mental arithmetic were negatively correlated with that in the aDMPFC during thermotherapy. The results suggest that thermotherapy in the facial eyelid region is useful to ameliorate mental fatigue through its effects on the prefrontal cortex.