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Heart Rate Variability during a Continuous Performance

Test in Children with Problems of Attention

Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci - Vol 48 - no.1 (2011)

Jacques eisenberg, md, and rafael richman, Phd

Children’s Clinic, Community Mental Hearth Center, Herzog Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel


Background: children with impulsive behavior and

poor self regulation have been shown to have low

parasympathetic tone. high vagal tone is associated

with attention to novel stimuli.

Objective: To study if heart rate Variability, an index of

vagal tone, is a mediator of attention.

Method: 77 children who performed a continuous

Performance test (TOVa test) had their eKg recorded

for heart rate Variability measurements. subjects were

assigned to groups according to their performance on

the TOVa test and a general linear model for repeated

measures applied. Pearson correlations were applied

for TOVa scores and hrV Values at four epochs.

Results: no individual correlations were found between

attention scores and hrV. however, there was a significant

group difference showing that good performers had a

higher "vagal" tone than poor performers.

Conclusion: The parasympathetic system as measured

through hrV is not a mediator of attention. hrV may be

an indicator of better health and ability to self regulate.

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