Minjoz Séphora

Minjoz Séphora
Membres associés
Email: sephora.minjoz@univ-smb.fr

PhD thesis :


Neurovegetative decoupling in the visceral-brain axis and psychological vulnerability in somatoform disorders : Interest of heart rate variability biofeedback

PhD supervision : Pellissier Sonia (LIP/PC2S) & Hot Pascal (LPNC)

Somatoform disorders [SD] are defined as physiological functions or organs disturbances that are not explained by specific biomedical criteria, they are considered as stress-related disorders. Recent theoretical debates discussed possible common vulnerability factors behind the extreme variability of the different SD expressions. In this context, two neurovegetative endophenotypes (individual autonomic profiles) have been highlighted in SD : a functional autonomic profile and a dysautonomic profile with parasympathetic-vagal hypotonia.

The Autonomic Nervous System [ANS] could be considered as a bidirectional system of communication between the Central Nervous System [CNS] and the viscera. And thus, a dysautonomic profile would be accompanied by a chronic uncoupling in the brain-gut axis, which could explain, at least, different degrees of cognitive and emotional vulnerability to stress. Moreover, traumatic experiences could be determining factors for ANS functioning and stress-sensitivity in SD.

In the case of the blunted parasympathetic activity and brain-gut uncoupling hypotheses, targeting heart rate variability (HRV) reinforcement to improve parasympathetic activity are an interesting therapeutic approach. HRV-Biofeedback could provide a powerful method to restore psycho-physiological functionning.

As a consequence, first aim of this work would consist to evaluate feasibility and efficacy of biofeedback techniques in SD in terms of physiological and clinical impacts. As part of this project, we examine this hypothesis in a population with peripheral symptomatic expressions: Irritable Bowel Syndrome [IBS] or with central symptoms expressions : Psychogenic, Non Epileptic Seizure [PNES]. At the same time, we make the prediction those patients with a parasympathetic dysfunction will be more responding at the biofeedback.

Axes de recherche

  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Gut-brain axis
  • Trauma
  • Vagus nerve
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Emotional regulation
  • Stress
  • Biofeedback
  • Heart Rate Variability


  • 2017-2018 : Master’s Degree in Research in Clinical Neuropsychology and Neurosciences (Grenoble University, France). Research project : Effects of cardiac biofeedback on decision-making in stroke patients. Supervised by Hot Pascal (LPNC, USMB) & Pellissier Sonia (LIP/PC2S, USMB)
  • 2016-2017 : Master’s degree (2nd year) in Neuropsychology, (Savoie Mont-Blanc University, France). Research project : Effects of cardiac biofeedback on decision-making in stroke patients. Supervised by Hot Pascal (LPNC, USMB)
  • 2015-2016 : Master’s degree (1st year) Neuropsychology course, (Savoie Mont-Blanc University, France). Research project : Impact of cardiac biofeedback and mindfulness on vagal activity and interoceptive consciousness. Supervised by Pellissier Sonia (LIP/PC2S, USMB)
  • 2012-2015 : Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (Savoie Mont-Blanc University, France).