Perseverative thinking and health: Neurovisceral concomitants

Julian F. Thayer, Richard D. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In the present paper we present the outlines of a model that may help to guide us in our understanding of the relationship between perseverative thinking and health. We will emphasize the relationship between perseverative thinking and vagal cardiac control and propose a group of underlying neural structures that serve to integrate these functions in the service of self-regulation and adaptability of the organism. We will attempt to place this network in the context of systems models which involve feedback and feedforward circuits with special attention to negative feedback mechanisms and inhibitory processes. From a systems perspective, inhibitory processes can be viewed as negative feedback circuits that allow for the interruption of ongoing behavior and the re-deployment of resources to other tasks. When these negative feedback mechanisms are compromised, positive feedback loops may develop as a result of dis-inhibition. From this perspective, the relative sympathetic activation seen in perseverative thinking may represent dis-inhibition due to faulty inhibitory mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-695
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Heart rate variablility
  • Parasympathetic
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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