A Common Panic Response Could Desensitize The Body To Temperature Changes Neuroscience News

summary: Panic-induced hyperventilation can reduce our ability to respond to environmental threats because it desensitizes our body temperature to change.

Source: University of Tsukuba

The fight-or-flight response evolved to keep us safe from predators, but it can sometimes cause us to overreact in modern life when we’re not facing the same dangers we once did.

Now, researchers from Japan have found that a common panic response may actually reduce our ability to deal with environmental threats.

In a study published this month in American Journal of Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative PhysiologyResearchers from the University of Tsukuba and Niigata University of Health and Welfare revealed that the change in blood gas caused by intense breathing can desensitize the body to changes in temperature.

When we encounter unexpected stressors in daily life, such as acute pain or fear, a common response is to start breathing rapidly. This response, called hyperventilation, often involves breathing more rapidly than the body actually needs in order to deal with the perceived threat or danger.

“The purpose of hyperventilation during stress is not well understood, although it is thought to reduce sensitivity to stressful stimuli,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Tomomi Fujimoto.

“However, it remains unclear whether and how hyperventilation reduces sensitivity to changes in temperature.”

To explore this, the researchers first tested the sensitivity to temperature changes in young adults while they were breathing normally. Then, they were asked to breathe rapidly (hyperventilation), with or without carbon dioxide added to the inspired air, to simulate hypocapnia, which is the natural decrease in carbon dioxide that occurs with hyperventilation, which is normal carbon dioxide. dioxide level.

This response, called hyperventilation, often involves breathing more rapidly than the body actually needs in order to deal with the perceived threat or danger. The image is in the public domain

“The results were amazing,” explains Professor Takeshi Nishiyasu, corresponding author. “Local detection of warm and cold stimuli was impaired when the subjects were hypoxic hyperventilation, but did not differ when they were breathing with normocapnia.”

In addition, decreased blood flow to the brain was observed during hyperventilation with hypocapnia compared to hyperventilation with normocapnia. Although the decreased sensitivity to warm and cold stimuli was comparable on the forehead, detection of warm stimuli was unchanged on the forearm.

“These findings indicate that hypoventilation caused by hyperventilation, rather than hyperventilation per se, attenuates local skin heat perception, although changes in response to warm stimuli may not be clearly perceived in some areas of the skin,” says Dr. Fujimoto. .

Given that hyperventilation with hypnocapnia reduces blood flow to the part of the brain that receives signals about thermal stimulation, it is plausible that this is the cause of the impairment of heat perception.

Findings from this study suggest that hypoglycemia may be a mechanism by which hyperventilation reduces sensitivity to stress, while paradoxically inhibiting thermoregulatory behavior in extremely hot and cold environments, which may contribute to heatstroke and hypothermia. transverse body.

About this Neuroscience Research News

author: press office
Source: University of Tsukuba
Contact: Press Office – University of Tsukuba
picture: The image is in the public domain

Original search: open access.
“Hypocapnia attenuates local skin thermal perception to innocuous warm and cold stimuli in normothermic humans” by Tomomi Fujimoto et al. American Journal of Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

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Summary

Hypocapnia attenuates local skin thermal perception to harmless warm and cold stimuli in normal temperature resting humans.

When a person is exposed to a stressful situation in their daily life, a common response is to hyperventilate. Although the physiological significance of stress-induced hyperventilation remains uncertain, this response may impair sensory perception of the stress-inducing stimulus.

This study examined the effects of voluntary hyperventilation and the resulting lack of pain on the local skin thermal detection threshold in normal-thermal humans.

Local skin temperature detection thresholds were measured in 15 young men (three females) under three breathing conditions: 1) spontaneous breathing (control experiment), 2) voluntary hyperventilation (HH experiment), f 3) Normal voluntary hyperventilation (NH trial). Local skin thermal detection thresholds were measured using heat stimuli containing a Peltier element that was attached to the forearm and forehead.

The temperature of the probe was initially equilibrated with the skin temperature, and then gradually increased or decreased at a constant rate (±0.1 °C/s) until participants felt warm or cool.

The difference between the initial skin temperature and the local skin temperature at which the participant observed warmth/coldness was assessed as an indicator of the warm/cold skin detection threshold. Local detection of warm and cold stimuli did not differ between the Control and NH trials, but was impaired in the HH trial compared to the Control and NH trials, except for the detection of warm stimuli on the forearm.

These results indicate that hypoventilation caused by hyperventilation, and not hyperventilation per se, attenuates local skin heat perception, although changes in responses to warm stimuli may not be clearly perceived in some skin regions (eg, forearm). ).

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