Laboratory for Brain and Heart Health (LBHH)
The brain affects the neurogenic control of the heart and blood vessels through the autonomic nervous system. Disordered control of this autonomic nervous system is thought to be a factor in the development or progression of cardiovascular disease. Yet, vascular disease is hypothesized to be a major determinant of neural dysfunction, particularly of brain function. Furthermore, lack of exercise is known to be the number one modifiable risk factor for vascular disease and a primary lifestyle mechanism to improve vascular health. Exercise is also known to enhance some aspects of brain function. Research conducted in the LBHH emphasizes the impact of exercise on the malleability or plasticity of the autonomic nervous system, the heart and the blood vessels of individuals who are at risk for, or have, cardiovascular disease. Our collaborations with the neuroimaging resources at Robarts Research Institute extend these examinations to the brain so that cortical autonomic network can be assessed in conjunction with detailed assessment of vascular and neural health.