Cerebral blood flow modulations during proactive control in chronic hypotension

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In addition to complaints including fatigue, mood disturbance, dizziness or cold limbs, chronic low blood pressure (hypotension) is associated with reduced cognitive performance. Deficiencies in cerebral blood flow regulation may contribute to this impairment. This study investigated cerebral blood flow modulations during proactive control in hypotension. Proactive control refers to cognitive processes during anticipation of a behaviourally relevant event that allow optimization of readiness to react. Using functional transcranial Doppler sonography, bilateral blood flow velocities in the middle cerebral arteries were recorded in 40 hypotensive and 40 normotensive participants during a precued Stroop task. Hypotensive participants exhibited smaller bilateral blood flow increases during response preparation and longer response time. The group differences in blood flow and response time did not vary by executive function load, i.e. congruent vs. incongruent trials. Over the total sample, the flow increase correlated negatively with response time in trials with a higher executive function load. The findings indicate reduced cerebral blood flow adjustment during both the basic and more complex requirements of proactive control in hypotension. They also suggest a general deficit in attentional function and processing speed due to low blood pressure and cerebral hemodynamic dysregulations rather than particular impairments in executive functions.

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