Does motor activity during psychophysiological paradigms confound the quantification and interpretation of heart rate and heart rate variability measures in young children?
Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), heart period, and motor activity were monitored in preschoolers during a variety of tasks varying in required movement. The data analyses indicate: (1) that when activity increases during tasks, there are synchronous decreases in heart period and RSA; (2) that correlations between changes in RSA and heart period are related to activity only during exercise when there is a major demand for increased metabolic resources; and (3) that the covariation among the variables within each condition is low except during exercise. These findings suggest that the slight increases in motor activity (i.e., hand movements) often required in attention demanding psychophysiological protocols are not related to RSA and heart period responses. However when tasks necessitate large increases in motor activity (e.g., exercise), the decreases in heart period and RSA are related to the change in motor activity. (c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc