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Editor's Correspondence
October 28, 2002

Speech Hesitation Pauses as a Measure of Neuronal Activity

Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(19):2251. doi:

Chang et al1 find that a high level of anger in response to stress in young men is associated with an increased risk of subsequent premature and total cardiovascular disease, particularly myocardial infarction. Anger responses were based on subjective assessment by respondents and not on observation during an interview.

Therefore, future research may monitor speech hesitation pauses (SHPs) of 1 second or more in spontaneous dialogues, reflecting neuronal activity and firing. This precise, objective method is supported by reports that the rate of SHPs correlated with (1) immobility in the face of stress; (2) the state of the circulatory system (angina and/or hypertension); (3) a 6-fold incidence of clinical coronary heart disease in 2 groups of men with normal coronary structure observed prospectively for 10 years (P<.05); and (4) the left hemisphere subserving violence, for which the metabolic rate is higher in men.2,3

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