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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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Stanford 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.

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