Comparison of heart rate recovery from physical and mental stress
Master of Arts
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The present study evaluated a new paradigm for identifying individuals who show exaggerated, delayed physiological recovery following mental stress. Siibjects first performed a mental task, a face-to-face quiz, wliile heart rate was recorded. Ten minutes later they performed a physical task, squeezing a hand dynamometer, with the force varied in order to produce a heart rate elevation identical to the mental task. Each task was followed by a ten minute recovery period. Twenty seven subjects satisfied the criterion for equivalent heart rate elevations to both stressors. A difference score, reflecting relatively slower recovery from the mental stressor (relative to the physical task), was significantly correlated with the Anger-Out subscale of the Anger Expression scale (Sp i.e Iber ger, Johnson, Russell, et al,, .1 985 ) for the first five minutes of recovery from the mental stressor. In contrast, residual recovery heart rate scores, controlling for resting and stress response level, were correlated with reported levels of physical fitness, but not personality factors. These results indicate the value of combining this new difference score paradigm with the standard residual score analysis of recovery to identify which factors are affecting recovery through psychological versus physiological mechanisms.