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Biol Psychol. 2010 May;84(2):296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.03.001. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Hearts and minds: Coordination of neurocognitive and cardiovascular regulation in children and adolescents.

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Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, 100 St. George St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G3.


Emotional reactions involve changes in both cognitive and bodily processes. Therefore, effective emotion regulation may also involve modulation of responses in both of these systems. The present study investigated the relationship between regulation of cognition and regulation of the heart in children and adolescents, using a go/nogo task in combination with the induction of negative emotions. Behavioral, temperamental and event-related brain potential (ERP) indicators of inhibitory cognitive control were collected, as was a measure of parasympathetic control of the heart (respiratory sinus arrhythmia, RSA). Independently of age, RSA was correlated with nogo N2 magnitudes during the emotion-induction procedure. RSA during the task was also correlated with N2 latencies and with behavioral accuracy before, during and after the emotion induction. Resting RSA was correlated with individual differences in the capacity for effortful cognitive control, as measured by questionnaire. These results suggest that emotional responses in seemingly distinct neurophysiological systems may be regulated in an integrated fashion throughout the developmental span tested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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