Integrative Physiology Laboratory

Research in the Integrative Physiology Laboratory primarily focuses on neural control of circulation in humans. These studies aim to better understand the mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease and orthostatic hypotension, with the goal of uncovering methods for reducing their incidence.

Specifically, we are interested in examining sympathetic neural and cardiovascular responses to various sympathoexcitatory maneuvers including

  • mental stress;
  • exercise;
  • cold pressor test;
  • orthostatic challenges, i.e., lower body negative pressure or head-up tilt; and 
  • vestibular activation.

The lab is equipped for microneurography, a specialized technique that allows us to record post-ganglionic neural activity. Other measurements include beat-to-beat blood pressure using finger plethysmography, limb blood flow using venous occlusion plethysmography, cerebral blood flow using transcranial Doppler, and heart rate/heart rate variability using electrocardiogram.

Comprehensive investigations of neural and vascular influences on cardiovascular disease and orthostatic hypotension are clinically relevant, and this area of research is traditionally funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Our ongoing and recently completed NIH grants focus on the following:

  • the influence of omega-3 fatty acids on neurovascular responses to mental stress in humans, and
  • neurovascular control during sleep deprivation in men and women.

Additionally, our laboratory continues to focus on the neural control of circulation in women, a research topic that has not been given adequate attention in past years.

A secondary area of research in our lab is human performance, with a focus on aerobic and anaerobic metabolism of elite athletes. Recent projects in this area have examined maximal aerobic capacities and lactate thresholds in collegiate hockey players.