Title page for ETD etd-05052010-021743

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Allen, Ben
Author's Email Address benallen@vt.edu
URN etd-05052010-021743
Title What Resonates with you? Methods of Induced Cardiovascular Resonance
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Friedman, Bruce H. Committee Chair
Bell, Martha Ann Committee Member
Denbow, Donald Michael Committee Member
  • Respiration
  • Cardiovascular
  • Resonance
Date of Defense 2010-04-26
Availability unrestricted
Patients with autonomic dysfunction have benefited from balancing of parasympathetic

and sympathetic activity through the practice of slow breathing exercises. In preliminary

studies, patients with various autonomic dysfunctions used biofeedback of respiratory

activity to slow breathing to a cadence of six cycles per minute, a frequency known as the

resonant frequency (Vaschillo, Vaschillo, & Lehrer, 2006). Breathing at this rate

produces cardiovascular resonance (large oscillations in heart rate and blood pressure),

forcing the autonomic nervous system to continuously regulate these changes, thereby

exercising, and eventually strengthening autonomic control over hemodynamic events.

The present study examined several methodologies, such as slow breathing exercises,

which are believed to strengthen autonomic control by inducing cardiovascular

resonance. Specifically, the current experiment compared different methods of inducing

cardiovascular resonance, such as paced breathing and biofeedback assisted protocols.

The utility of positive emotion inductions to attenuate respiratory discomfort during slow

breathing exercises was also examined. Accurate estimation of the resonant frequency

using respiratory methods was largely unsuccessful. However, all respiratory methods

produced profound effects in the cardiovascular system, with some differences in the

magnitude of effect. In addition, the utility of an emotion induction during slow paced

breathing was also demonstrated. The results of this study also support the notion that

slow breathing improves pulmonary gas exchange efficiency, in addition to strengthening

the baroreflex, by increasing heart rate variability.

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