Oscillatory dynamics of vasoconstriction and vasodilation identified by time-localized phase coherence

L W Sheppard, V Vuksanovic, P V E McClintock, A Stefanovska

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65 Citations (Scopus)


We apply wavelet-based time-localized phase coherence to investigate the relationship between blood flow and skin temperature, and between blood flow and instantaneous heart rate (IHR), during vasoconstriction and vasodilation provoked by local cooling or heating of the skin. A temperature-controlled metal plate (approximately 10 cm2) placed on the volar side of the left arm was used to provide the heating and cooling. Beneath the plate, the blood flow was measured by laser Doppler flowmetry and the adjacent skin temperature by a thermistor. Two 1 h datasets were collected from each of the ten subjects. In each case a 30 min basal recording was followed by a step change in plate temperature, to either 24 °C or 42 °C. The IHR was derived from simultaneously recorded ECG. We confirm the changes in the energy and frequency of blood flow oscillations during cooling and heating reported earlier. That is, during cooling, there was a significant decrease in the average frequency of myogenic blood flow oscillations (p < 0.05) and the myogenic spectral peak became more prominent. During heating, there was a significant (p < 0.05) general increase in spectral energy, associated with vasodilation, except in the myogenic interval. Weak phase coherence between temperature and blood flow was observed for unperturbed skin, but it increased in all frequency intervals as a result of heating. It was not significantly affected by cooling. We also show that significant (p < 0.05) phase coherence exists between blood flow and IHR in the respiratory and myogenic frequency intervals. Cooling did not affect this phase coherence in any of the frequency intervals, whereas heating enhanced the phase coherence in the respiratory and myogenic intervals. This can be explained by the reduction in vascular resistance produced by heating, a process where myogenic mechanisms play a key role. We conclude that the mechanisms of vasodilation and vasoconstriction, in response to temperature change, are oscillatory in nature and are independent of central sources of variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3583-3601
Number of pages19
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2011


  • blood circulation
  • heart rate
  • hot temperature
  • models, biological
  • muscles
  • skin
  • skin temperature
  • time factors
  • vasoconstriction
  • vasodilation


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