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Heart rate variability as a potential indicator of positive valence system disturbance: A proof of concept investigation

Gruber, June ; Mennin, Douglas S ; Fields, Adam ; Purcell, Amanda ; Murray, Greg

International Journal of Psychophysiology, November 2015, Vol.98(2), pp.240-248 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Heart rate variability as a potential indicator of positive valence system disturbance: A proof of concept investigation
  • Author/Creator: Gruber, June ; Mennin, Douglas S ; Fields, Adam ; Purcell, Amanda ; Murray, Greg
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Emotion ; Positive Valence ; Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia ; Vagal Tone ; Psychophysiology ; Experience Sampling ; Bipolar Disorder ; Depression ; Anatomy & Physiology ; Psychology
  • Is Part Of: International Journal of Psychophysiology, November 2015, Vol.98(2), pp.240-248
  • Description: One promising avenue toward a better understanding of the pathophysiology of positive emotional disturbances is to examine high-frequency heart rate variability (HRV-HF), which has been implicated as a potential physiological index of disturbances in positive emotional functioning. To date, only a few psychopathology relevant studies have systematically quantified HRV-HF profiles using more ecologically valid methods in everyday life. Using an experience-sampling approach, the present study examined both mean levels and intra-individual variability of HRV-HF – as well as comparison measures of cardiovascular arousal, sympathetic activity, and gross somatic movement – in everyday life, using ambulatory psychophysiological measurement across a six-day consecutive period among a spectrum of community adult participants with varying degrees of positive valence system disturbance, including adults with bipolar I disorder (BD; = 21), major depressive disorder (MDD; = 17), and healthy non-psychiatric controls (CTL; = 28). Groups did not differ in mean HRV-HF, but greater HRV-HF instability (i.e., intra-individual variation in HRV-HF) was found in the BD compared to both MDD and CTL groups. Subsequent analyses suggested that group differences in HRV-HF variability were largely accounted for by variations in clinician-rated manic symptoms. However, no association was found between HRV-HF variability and dimensional measures of positive affectivity. This work provides evidence consistent with a quadratic relationship between HRV-HF and positive emotional disturbance and represents a valuable step toward developing a more ecologically valid model of positive valence system disturbances and their underlying psychophysiological mechanisms within an RDoC framework.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0167-8760 ; E-ISSN: 1872-7697 ; DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.08.005