Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Kertz, Sarah


AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF DAGONG RAN, for the MASTER OF ARTS degree in PSYCHOLOGY, presented on JULY 5, 2016, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: HEART RATE VARIABILITY IN CHILDREN: TONIC CHARACTERISTICS AND REACTIVITY MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Sarah Kertz This study investigated tonic heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate variability reactivity in response to stress in children with anxiety and worry symptoms. Twenty-nine children age 8 to 12 from a rural Midwestern region completed the study and were included in the data analyses. Participants completed an artificial auditioning task in which they were asked to sing in front of a video camera. Electrocardiogram were recorded prior, during, and after the task. Frequency and time domain analyses of HRV were conducted. Neither parent-report or child self-report anxiety/worry symptom levels were associated with baseline frequency domain and time domain HRV. All participants showed similar HRV reactivity in response to the stress task. Specifically, high frequency HRV was higher during baseline than during stress task, and low frequency HRV was higher during baseline than both during stress task and recovery. These findings contradicted with previous literature results. More studies are needed to examine the association between anxiety and HRV in children.




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