How Does the Body Affect the Mind? Role of Cardiorespiratory Coherence in the Spectrum of Emotions

Adv Mind Body Med. 2015 Fall;29(4):4-16.


The brain is considered to be the primary generator and regulator of emotions; however, afferent signals originating throughout the body are detected by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and brainstem, and, in turn, can modulate emotional processes. During stress and negative emotional states, levels of cardiorespiratory coherence (CRC) decrease, and a shift occurs toward sympathetic dominance. In contrast, CRC levels increase during more positive emotional states, and a shift occurs toward parasympathetic dominance. The dynamic changes in CRC that accompany different emotions can provide insights into how the activity of the limbic system and afferent feedback manifest as emotions. The authors propose that the brainstem and CRC are involved in important feedback mechanisms that modulate emotions and higher cortical areas. That mechanism may be one of many mechanisms that underlie the physiological and neurological changes that are experienced during pranayama and meditation and may support the use of those techniques to treat various mood disorders and reduce stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Meditation
  • Neurophysiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Stress, Psychological