Responding and reacting: The cardiovascular consequences of thoughtful and automatic actions
12-1pm, March 5, 2019
Room of Nations, Memorial Union, North Dakota State University
Dr. Hilmert with be giving an open talk as part of the Science, Religion, and Lunch Seminars (SRLS) hosted by the Northern Plains Ethics Institute.
Abstract: There is a long-held belief that thoughtful responding is generally better than automatic reacting. However, at the physiological level, our body responds to stimuli without “thought.” This is the job of the autonomic nervous system, to automatically react to stimuli without having to involve our higher order cogitations. Research has shown that individual differences in physiological reactions to noxious stimuli, such as pain and social stress, predict our future health – particularly our cardiovascular health. Are our physiological reactions hard-wired by genetics, early life programming, or are they malleable, able to be “re-programmed” by new experiences? This talk will consider a research tradition in which those with the highest physiological “reactivity” to stress are assumed to be at highest risk of cardiovascular disease. We will discuss a historical basis for this research, some of the “cardiovascular complexities” faced by this tradition, and what we are currently doing with virtual reality to help advance this research.