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29-12-2016 | Uitgave 7/2017

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 7/2017

Correspondence between Heart Rate Variability and Emotion Dysregulation in Children, Including Children with ADHD

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 7/2017
Nora Bunford, Steven W. Evans, Peggy M. Zoccola, Julie Sarno Owens, Kate Flory, Craig F. Spiel
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10802-016-0257-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Youth and adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) experience academic and social impairment and engage in risky behaviors. Emotion dysregulation (ED) is associated with ADHD and may contribute to these impairments and behaviors. Although many measures of ED exist, little is known about the physiological bases of ED, in the context of ADHD. In a large sample of children (M age = 9.01 years; 62% male) with (n = 48) and without (n = 56) ADHD, we examined (1) the correspondence between parent-reported ED and heart rate variability (HRV) – a psychophysiological marker of parasympathetic engagement and (2) whether parent-reported ED is predicted by HRV above and beyond ADHD. For both aims, we tested both dichotomous and continuous indices of parent-reported ED. Results indicated (1) a dichotomous index of parent-reported emotion regulation was associated with HRV and (2) this index was predicted by HRV above and beyond ADHD. Together, findings indicate that the correspondence between ED and HRV depends on the specific manifestation of ED that is considered (emotion regulation vs. lability/negativity) and the way in which ED is conceptualized (dichotomous vs. continuous).

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