Inhibitory effects of stress on postprandial gastric myoelectrical activity and vagal tone in healthy subjects

J. Yin, D. Levanon, J. D.Z. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The aim was to investigate gastric myoelectrical activity (GMA) and vagal activity in response to stress. The study was performed in 10 healthy subjects in three sessions (control, relaxation and stress). The control session was composed of 30-min recordings before and 30-min recordings after a test meal. The protocol of two other sessions was similar except that the fasting recording was extended to 60 min and the subjects were continuously watching a horror movie (stress) or guided meditation tape (relaxation) after the 30-min baseline. GMA was recorded using electrogastrography and heart rate variability (HRV) was derived from the electrocardiogram. Meal resulted in a postprandial increase in the dominant frequency (2.91 cpm vs 3.17 cpm, P < 0.007), dominant power (30.0 dB vs 32.5 dB, P < 0.05), and percentage of normal slow waves (79.8% vs 87.4%, P = 0.09). Similar responses were found in the relaxation session. Stress inhibited all these normal postprandial response and reduced the regularity of gastric slow waves (82.0% vs 66.0%, P < 0.01). In addition, spectral analysis of the HRV demonstrated an inhibition of postprandial vagal activity and an increase of postprandial sympathetic activity with stress. Stress has an inhibitory effect on postprandial GMA and this may involve both vagal and sympathetic pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-744
Number of pages8
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrogastrography
  • Gastric motility
  • Gastric myoelectrical activity
  • Heart rate variability
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology


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