HRV Regulation by Calligraphic Finger-writing and Guqin Music: A Pilot Case Study

  • Stewart P.W. Lam University of Hong Kong
  • Henry S.R. Kao University of Hong Kong
  • Xiaoyang Kao University of Illinois-Urbana-Champagn
  • Miranda Mei Yan Fung China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Bejing, China
  • Tin Tin Kao University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Keywords: Finger-Writing, Guqin-Music, Emotion, HRV-Biofeedback, Rehabilitation, calligraphy


Introduction. Previous research shows that brush Chinese calligraphy handwriting (CCH) improves one’s
cognitive functions as well as emotional and mental health. Similarly, Guqin, the popular Chinese musical
instrument, induces positive emotions and emotional stability. The present study tested the efficacy of using the index finger to achieve similar mind–body changes. Methods. We employed a heart rate variability (HRV)
Calligraphy–Guqin biofeedback intervention that was implemented with a Zephyr HxM Bluetooth chest heart rate monitoring device and an Android smartphone. A web-based HRV big database app stored the data from three consecutive sessions: (1) 5 min of Guqin music listening; (2) 5 min of CCH finger writing of calligraphy; and (3) again 5 min of Guqin music listening. The second session was designed to explore additive effects of the fingerwriting task. One subject participated with the index finger employed for the writing task. Results. The results showed that the first and third Guqin sessions elicited 55% and 68% HRV coherences, respectively, while the CCH finger writing in the second session elicited 31% of high HRV coherence. The increase in HRV coherence between the two Guqin sessions was attributed to the calligraphy finger writing training effect. The practice of finger writing contributed to increased HRV regulation through heightened attention and concentration.

Author Biographies

Stewart P.W. Lam, University of Hong Kong

Department of Psychology


Henry S.R. Kao, University of Hong Kong

Professor Emeritus

Department of Psychology

Xiaoyang Kao, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champagn

Department of Electrical Engineering

Tin Tin Kao, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Department of Psychology


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Technical Notes