This is the title of our new preprint, published in PsyArXiv, where we review the evidence in favor of the novel hypothesis that physical exercise enhances cognitive performance by improving interoception.
Our recent research, revealing significant differences in how the brains of physically trained and sedentary young adults process information from the heart, is now available for commentary and formal peer review in two preprint repositories: SJS (@social_sjs) and bioRxiv (@biorxivpreprint).
Our new article, published in Psychophysiology and freely available from my Publications page, compares the accuracy of the three algorithms for B point detection included in Biopac’s popular software Acknowledge. We found unexpected and dramatic differences in the accuracy of these three algorithms, with the one based on the third derivative of the impedance cardiogram performing significantly better. In our article, we also provide a decision tree to help in the manual detection of the B point, especially by young and inexperienced researchers.
In two recent papers, published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine, and in Scientific Reports, we showed that young athletes perform better in a sustained attention task compared to their sedentary counterparts. Interestingly, the benefits of exercise on attention are observed only during the first 30 minutes of the 1-hour task. After that, there are no differences in the performance of the two groups. We observe that during this enhanced attention period, athletes also exhibit significantly different EEG and heart period event-related potentials (ERPs). This novel finding points towards a previously unrecognised brain-heart interaction in the mediation of cognitive benefits induced by physical exercise. These interesting results on the role of regular exercise on attention have also attracted the attention of Spanish popular science journals.
In this recently published study we compared 30 experienced crisis managers with 30 managers from other disciplines, in terms of self-reported stress, health status and psychophysiological reactivity to crisis-related and non-specific visual and acoustic aversive stimuli and cognitive challenge. Crisis managers reported lower stress levels, a more positive strain-recuperation-balance, greater social resources, reduced physical symptoms, as well as more physical exercise and less alcohol consumption. They exhibited diminished electrodermal and heart rate responses to crisis-related and non-specific stressors.
The Laboratory for Network Physiology directed by Plamen Ch. Ivanov recently launched its official website. Professor Ivanov, with whom I collaborate closely for the past six years, is leading a unique team of statistical physicists, neuroscientists, applied mathematicians and biomedical engineers that have as their mission to understand how organ systems dynamically interact and collectively behave as a network to produce health or disease. This coordinated effort proposes a new scientific field, Network Physiology, to probe the network of interactions among diverse physiologic systems.
In our recently article published in “Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience”, we show that high emotional arousal is not solely associated to unethical economic behavior —such as tax evasion— as previous research had revealed. Instead, people get emotionally aroused also when making ethical choices if these choices imply the loss of monetary reward. In other words, it seems to be more stressful for someone to lose money than to make an unethical decision that causes a loss of money to others. This means that, in certain circumstances, our bodies reward unethical decisions in order to minimise the unpleasant feeling produced by decisions that cost us money. This behavior is inverted when the possibility of punishment exists. In that case corrupt decisions become more stressful than ethical ones.
As I make my way through an ocean of stimuli and experiences I observe the subtle changes in my mood and try to explain where they come from and what is causing them. My mind is hardwired to look for causes in a linear way. Big emotions are caused by dramatic life events while minor mood changes can have less significant origins, such as something I ate yesterday or an approaching project deadline. This hunt for external causes keeps my mind busy and the conversations with friends going, but is it always meaningful?
The presentation of my lecture for the students of the Master in Economics at the University of Granada (20th of March 2013).