Asymmetric Innervation of the Heart

Richard D. Lane, Hugo Critchley, Peter Taggart

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the leading cause of death in the Western world. SCD is thought to result from an interaction between a substrate (a diseased heart) and a trigger. However, the mechanisms of this interaction are poorly understood. Based on the foundational observation that the autonomic innervation of the heart is asymmetric, with sympathetic activation lateralized to the left being more arrhythmogenic than sympathetic activation lateralized to the right, we review evidence for the hypothesis that lateralized brain activation, particularly subcortically, can induce life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias and SCD through lateralized mechanisms. Although not yet conclusive, evidence of lateralized influences on arrhythmogenesis is suggestive and continues to grow. Implications for future research and clinical applications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780387859606
ISBN (Print)9780387859590
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Amygdala
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Brain asymmetry
  • Emotion
  • Sudden cardiac death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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