Respiratory sensory gating is evidenced by decreased amplitudes of the respiratory-related evoked potentials (RREP) N1 peak for the second (S2) compared to the first occlusion (S1) when two paired occlusions are presented with a 500-millisecond (ms) inter-stimulus-interval during one inspiration. Because anxiety is prevalent in respiratory diseases and associated with altered respiratory perception, we tested whether anxiety can modulate individuals' respiratory neural gating mechanism. By using high-density EEG, RREPs were measured in a paired inspiratory occlusion paradigm in 11 low and 10 higher anxious individuals with normal lung function. The N1 peak gating S2/S1 ratio and the N1 S2 amplitudes were greater in higher compared to low anxious individuals (p's<0.05). In addition, higher anxiety levels were correlated with greater S2/S1 ratios (r=0.54, p<0.05) and S2 amplitudes (r=-0.49, p<0.05). The results demonstrate that anxiety is associated with reduced respiratory sensory gating which might underlie altered respiratory symptom perception in anxious individuals.
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