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Front Neuroeng. 2012 Feb 29;5:3. doi: 10.3389/fneng.2012.00003. eCollection 2012.

Dominant Lyapunov exponent and approximate entropy in heart rate variability during emotional visual elicitation.

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Department of Information Engineering and Interdepartmental Research Center "E. Piaggio", University of Pisa Pisa, Italy.


In this work we characterized the non-linear complexity of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in short time series. The complexity of HRV signal was evaluated during emotional visual elicitation by using Dominant Lyapunov Exponents (DLEs) and Approximate Entropy (ApEn). We adopted a simplified model of emotion derived from the Circumplex Model of Affects (CMAs), in which emotional mechanisms are conceptualized in two dimensions by the terms of valence and arousal. Following CMA model, a set of standardized visual stimuli in terms of arousal and valence gathered from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS) was administered to a group of 35 healthy volunteers. Experimental session consisted of eight sessions alternating neutral images with high arousal content images. Several works can be found in the literature showing a chaotic dynamics of HRV during rest or relax conditions. The outcomes of this work showed a clear switching mechanism between regular and chaotic dynamics when switching from neutral to arousal elicitation. Accordingly, the mean ApEn decreased with statistical significance during arousal elicitation and the DLE became negative. Results showed a clear distinction between the neutral and the arousal elicitation and could be profitably exploited to improve the accuracy of emotion recognition systems based on HRV time series analysis.


affective computing; approximate entropy; dominant Lyapunov exponent; emotion recognition; heart rate variability; non-linear analysis

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