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Biol Psychol. 2010 May;84(2):169-75. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.01.010. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

Cardiovascular and affective recovery from anticipatory threat.

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  • 1Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Anticipating a stressor elicits robust cardiovascular and affective responses. Despite the possibility that recovery from these responses may have implications for physical and mental well-being, little research has examined this issue. In this study, participants either gave a public speech or anticipated giving a speech. Compared with speech-givers, participants who anticipated giving a speech, on average, exhibited similar cardiovascular recovery (decreased heart rate [HR] and increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA]), and reported lower negative affect during recovery. Only in the anticipation condition, however, were cardiovascular recovery and affective recovery associated: poor affective recovery predicted incomplete HR recovery and decreased RSA. These are the first data to compare explicitly recovery from anticipation of a stressor with recovery from the stressor itself. These findings suggest that failing to recover from anticipation has unique physiological costs that, in turn, may contribute to mental and physical illness.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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