Association Between Heart Rate Variability and Executive Function Performance: A Cross-Sectional Study in Adult Population




Executive function, Neuropsychological tests, Heart rate variability, Autonomic function, Aging, Middle aged


The present study aimed at investigating the association between short-term heart rate variability and executive function performance in two groups of the adult population, that is, young adults and middle-aged adults. The influence of physical activity on heart rate variability and executive performance was also analyzed. A cross-sectional study was conducted on 143 adults; 65 middle-aged adults and 78 young adults. Each participant’s heart rate variability was recorded during the ideal state, during the executive function task and recovery state. The executive function tests included the Delayed Matching of Sample (DMS), Spatial Working Memory (SWM) and Multitasking Test (MTT) on the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). Physical activity levels were reported through IPAQ. Results revealed resting HRV indicator, RMSSD was able to predict correct scores in DMS, error rates in SWM, and reaction latencies in MTT in the adult population, and adults with high HRV performed better in the tests. Middle-aged adults demonstrated high sympathetic activity at rest, and reactivity of HRV was seen maximum during the MTT task. Young adults showed higher sympathetic activation to imposed demands of multitasking. Physical activity was able to predict executive scores and resting HRV. HRV was found to be associated with executive function performance in the adult population.

Author Biography

Shweta Shenoy, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab, 143005, India.

MYAS-GNDU Department of Sports Sciences and Medicine, Professor and Head


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