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Preschool children's heart rate variability across contexts of low and high emotional challenge correlates with their self-regulation performance
  • Caron A. C. Clark,
  • Patricia Cardellini de Almeida,
  • Keyoor Joshi
Caron A. C. Clark
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Patricia Cardellini de Almeida
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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Keyoor Joshi
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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Abstract

Heart rate variability (HRV) theoretically provides a biomarker for self-regulation, although studies with young children offer mixed findings regarding the relevance of emotional demands in this link. We aimed to describe variation in children’s HRV during tasks with relatively high and low emotional load, and to determine the relation of HRV during these tasks to different behavioral measures of children’s self-regulation. Electrocardiograms were recorded in 80 3 - 5-year-olds (M = 57 months; 54% male, 47% female) while they completed a Go/No-go task with low emotional load and an emotionally challenging Delay Frustration task. Mean HRV was similar across these tasks, although it increased during a between-task rest interval. Accounting for age, gender, and caregiver education, higher HRV during both tasks, but not during rest, correlated with children’s executive function task performance. HRV during Delay Frustration correlated with caregiver-reported self-regulation, whereas greater HRV withdrawal during tasks correlated with children’s task-related negative frustration. Children’s maintenance of HRV during emotional and cognitive challenge may support their effective self-regulation.
31 Aug 2023Submitted to Infant and Child Development: prenatal, childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood
01 Sep 2023Assigned to Editor
01 Sep 2023Submission Checks Completed
05 Sep 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
13 Nov 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
15 Feb 2024Submission Checks Completed
15 Feb 2024Assigned to Editor
21 Feb 2024Reviewer(s) Assigned