New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
|Institutions||University of Illinois at Chicago (professor)|
|Alma mater||Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; USA|
|Known for||The Polyvagal Theory|
Stephen Porges is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the Brain-Body Center in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago and holds appointments in the Departments of Psychology, BioEngineering, and Anatomy and Cell Biology. In 2012 Porges joined RTI International in North Carolina, while continuing to hold his professorship at Chicago. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Porges served as Chair of the Department of Human Development and Director of the Institute for Child Study. He is a former President of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been President of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, a consortium of societies representing approximately 20,000 biobehavioral scientists. He was a recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has chaired the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Maternal and Child Health Research Committee and was a visiting scientist in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Laboratory of Comparative Ethology. He was awarded a patent on a methodology to describe neural regulation of the heart. Porges is a neuroscientist with particular interests in understanding the neurobiology of social behavior. His research crosses disciplines and he has published in anesthesiology, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, space medicine, and substance abuse. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the autonomic nervous system to the emergence of social behavior. The theory provides insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders. The theory has stimulated research and treatments that emphasize the importance of physiological state and behavioral regulation in the expression of several psychiatric disorders including autism and provides a theoretical perspective to study and to treat stress and trauma.
- The first to quantify and use heart rate variability both as response and individual difference variable in psychophysiological research.
- Pioneer in developmental psychophysiology –one of the first to use autonomic measures to investigate the “psychological” world including studies of attention and autonomic conditioning in the newborn infant.
- Introduced respiratory sinus arrhythmia as index of vagal function to the area of psychophysiology.
- Developed a statistic to describe the covariation of two periodic signals when they vary across a band of frequencies (i.e., weighted coherence).
- First to apply measures of respiratory sinus arrhythmia as an index of depth of anesthesia and as a measure of neural function in critical care medicine.
- Demonstrated that early measures of respiratory sinus arrhythmia were related to clinical course in preterm and full term newborns.
- Developed a unique method to dynamically measure periodic components of heart rate variability when the components are superimposed on a nonstationary baseline; method received a patent and is used in approximately 200 laboratories worldwide; 1985, awarded patent.
- Proposed the Polyvagal Theory that is based on the phylogeney of the vertebrate autonomic nervous system. The theory led to discovery of three phylogenetically ordered neural circuits regulating autonomic nervous system. The newest circuit reflects unique face-heart connections which forms a functional “social engagement system” involving an integrated regulation in the brainstem of the striated muscles of the face and head with a mammalian myelinated vagus. The theory also proposes that the older vagal circuit is involved in death feigning and the shutdown behaviors often observed in response to life-threat.
The Polyvagal Theory
The Polyvagal Theory introduces a new perspective relating autonomic function to behavior that includes an appreciation of the autonomic nervous system as a "system," the identification of neural circuits involved in the regulation of autonomic state, and an interpretation of autonomic reactivity as adaptive within the context of the phylogeny of the vertebrate autonomic nervous system. The polyvagal perspective explores new questions, paradigms, explanations, and conclusions regarding the role that autonomic function has in the regulation of affective states and social behavior. Foremost, the polyvagal perspective emphasizes the importance of phylogenetic changes in the neural structures regulating the heart and how these phylogenetic shifts provide insights into the adaptive function of both physiology and behavior. The theory emphasizes the phylogenetic emergence of two vagal systems: a potentially lethal ancient circuit involved in defensive strategies of immobilization (e.g., fainting, dissociative states) and a newer mammalian circuit linking the heart to the face that is involved in both social engagement behaviors and in dampening reactivity of the sympathetic nervous system and the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
The Polyvagal Theory provides a new conceptualization of the autonomic nervous system that emphasizes how an understanding of neurophysiological mechanisms and phylogenetic shifts in the neural regulation of the heart leads to insights into causes and treatments of mental and physical illness. The Polyvagal Theory provides a plausible explanation of several features that are compromised during stress and observed in several psychiatric disorders.
- Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research
- American Psychological Association
- Association for Psychological Science
- International Society for Infant Studies
- Society for Psychophysiological Research
- Society for Research in Child Development
- International Behavioral Neuroscience Society
- Psychophysiology (1983–1987)
- Infant Behavior and Development (1977–1992)
- Child Development
- Developmental Psychobiology (1985–1991, 1995–1999)
- Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (1993-)
- Developmental Review (2000-)
- Porges, S.W. (2008). Regulation of the stress response: Stress and parasympathetic control. In Larry R. Squire, Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Oxford: Academic Press.
- Grippo, A.J., Lamb, D.G., Carter, C.S, & Porges, S.W. (2007). Social isolation disrupts autonomic regulation of the heart and influences negative affective behaviors. Biological Psychiatry, 62, 1162-1170.
- Porges, S.W., Heilman, K.J., Bazhenova, O.V., Bal, E., Doussard-Roosevelt, J.A., & Koledin, M. (2007). Does motor activity during psychophysiological paradigms confound the quantification and interpretation of heart rate and heart rate variability measures in young children? Developmental Psychobiology, 49, 485-494.
- Heilman, K.J., Bal, E., Bazhenova, O.V., & Porges, S.W. (2007). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia and tympanic membrane compliance predict spontaneous eye gaze behaviors in young children: A pilot study. Developmental Psychobiology, 49, 531-542.
- Porges, S.W. (2006). Asserting the role of biobehavioral sciences in translational research: the behavioral neurobiology revolution. Developmental Psychopathology,18, 923-933.
- Porges, S.W. (2003). Social engagement and attachment: A phylogenetic perspective. Roots of Mental Illness in Children, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1008, 31-47.
- Porges, S.W., & Coles, M.G.H. (eds.), (1976). Psychophysiology. Stroudsburg, PA: Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross.
- Coles, M.G.H., Donchin, E., & Porges, S.W. (eds.), (1986). Psychophysiology: Systems, Processes & Applications. New York: Guilford.
- Carter CS, Ahnert L, Grossmann K, Hrdy SB, Lamb M, Porges SW, & Sachser N. (eds). (2005) Attachment and Bonding: A New Synthesis. Cambridge: MIT Press.
- Porges, S.W., Trejo, B.M., & Martinez, A.C. (2005). La Teoria Polivagal. Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos.
- Biological Psychology
- Polyvagal Theory
- Autonomic nervous system
- Social cognition
- Social neuroscience
- RTI announcement]
- Porges, S.W. (2003). The Polyvagal Theory: phylogenetic contributions to social behavior. Physiology and Behavior, 79, 503-513.
- Porges, S.W. (2007). The Polyvagal Perspective. Biological Psychology, 74, 116-143.