Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Director

Serina Neumann

Committee Director

Michael Stutts

Committee Member

Christopher Ball

Committee Member

Leonard Holmes

Committee Member

Louis Janda

Abstract

The contribution of stress in the development of chronic and terminal disease has garnered significant interest in contemporary research. The current study aims to look at how performance in domains of cognitive function may affect autonomic-cardiovascular reactivity and recovery to psychologically stressful tasks as such reactions, over time, may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.

The current study analyzed data from 209 healthy middle-age adults. This included four neuropsychological tests utilized here to represent abilities in four different cognitive domains: response inhibition, mental flexibility, verbal memory, and nonverbal memory. The participants were also introduced to three psychologically stressful tasks while blood pressure, heart rate, and spectral components of heart rate variability measurements were taken during the tasks and the post-task recovery period.

Results showed no significant relationship between blood pressure reactivity or recovery and cognitive function. No significant relationship was found between heart rate variability reactivity and cognitive function. Results showed no significant relationship between blood pressure reactivity or recovery and cognitive function. No significant relationship was found between heart rate variability reactivity and cognitive function. However, superior performance in response inhibition was significantly positively associated with both LF-HRV (p = .04) and HF-HRV (p = .02) in the immediate recovery phase and HF-HRV (p = .02) in the delayed recovery phase. Such findings suggest that greater response inhibition abilities may contribute to greater vagally induced recovery from stressful tasks. Such a response can be considered healthy and likely acts as a protective factor against the development of cardiovascular disease.

Comments

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.

DOI

10.25777/56ks-3w19

ISBN

9781267425522

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