Breathing exercises: Implications for heart rate variability and brain activity

Craig, Megan (2015). Breathing exercises: Implications for heart rate variability and brain activity Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Craig, Megan
Thesis Title Breathing exercises: Implications for heart rate variability and brain activity
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2015-10-07
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Paul Harnett
Total pages 93
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Emotion regulation has notable implications for everyday life, as well as practical implications for clinical interventions for the treatment of mental illnesses. Recent theorists have suggested that the heart and brain work together in a constant cycle to promote efficient emotion regulation. One technique that has been used to target the specific physiological mechanisms is the use of breathing exercises, with two popular exercises being Controlled Breathing, which requires the individual to purposefully alter their breath to a slower rate, and Mindful Breathing, which teaches the individual to pay careful attention to their natural breathing rate and to let go of any distractive thought. The current study aimed to determine which one of these breathing exercises would best promote efficient emotion regulation, in terms of improving the physiological mechanisms behind emotion regulation. It was predicted that Mindful Breathing would be more effective; specifically, it would increase the efficiency of the heart, by increasing Heart Period and Heart Rate Variability. Mindful Breathing was also predicted to increase brain activity. Participants (N = 20) were equip with both an electrocardiography (ECG) and scalp-recorded electroencephalography (EEG) to measure their heart and brain activity, respectively, during three six-minute conditions: Baseline, Controlled Breathing, and Mindful Breathing. Contrary to predictions, Controlled Breathing produced increased brain activity over both Baseline and Mindful Breathing conditions, indicating that it is potentially a faster-acting breathing exercise than Mindful Breathing. Although, other physiological changes that simultaneously occurred, such as increased Heart Rate, may suggest that Controlled Breathing still have a number of flaws.
Keyword Breathing exercises
Heart rate variability
Brain Activity

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Created: Thu, 31 Mar 2016, 08:53:49 EST by Stephanie Kerr on behalf of School of Psychology