23 Octobre – Thesis defense - Estelle Blons

14 h Amphi J.P. Dom - laboratory IMS / Building A31 (Talence campus)

Individual and collective dynamics of the complexity of physiological signals in situations of induced stress.

Recent studies in human health assume a causal link between the complexity of psychophysiological control systems and the complexity of their resulting biosignals. This PhD illustrates the aforementioned principle by relying on an interdisciplinary approach, combining physiology, psychology and signal processing. The dynamics of human output physiological signals are studied in response to induced stress in individual or collective situations. The objective is to extract individual signatures depicting the central and autonomic regulations at rest or in different experimental situations. Since stress is a multifactorial process depending on the individual perception and interpretation of a situation, the study of physiological signals is combined with the evaluation of psychological contextual and dispositional characteristics. We focus our attention on cardiac regulations which are analysed from the time series defined by the successive durations of the RR intervals. Statistical signal processing methods, either temporal, frequency or non-linear, are used to study the adaptive capacities of individuals facing different situations of cognitive tasks associated or not with stressors. A particular interest is given to multiscale entropy to assess the complexity of signals, which makes it possible to consider the interconnections existing between cortical, subcortical structures and autonomic cardiac regulations. The probability density functions of recorded cardiac signals along each different experimental situation are compared two by two by using the Kullback-Leibler divergence, and in particular the estimate of the asymptotic increment of the divergence of Kullback-Leibler. The results show that studying cardiac signals allows to discriminate the psychophysiological state of an individual when facing either cognitive tasks or stressful situations. Psychophysiological state differences emerge during stress, not only at an individual level, but also at a collective one, for which the subject is not directly confronted with stressful stimuli. The stress is therefore empathic. Two experimental applications are carried out from our results. First, we show that the cardiac complexity, which is altered in people stressed at work, can be improved by cardiac coherence biofeedback training. Second, signal processing methods are also used to the study of postural regulation. Overall, our results strengthen the interest of human monitoring in health.

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