Growth Models of Positive Caregiving Behaviours and Concurrent Autonomic 
Activity in Caregivers and Children during a Challenging Puzzle Task: Replication and Extension Journal Article uri icon



  • Caregivers exhibiting low levels of positive caregiving tend to have reduced dynamic range in high- frequency heart rate variability (HRV), an index of parasympathetic nervous system activity. Yet less is known about the involvement of the sympathetic nervous system, which may impact the plausible range of parasympathetic reactivity. Here, caregiver–child dyads completed resting assessments of HRV and pre-ejection period (PEP), followed by a videotaped puzzle task during which HRV was measured and observers coded the degree of caregivers’ positive emotionality. Multilevel modelling was employed to characterize task fluctuations in HRV as a function of resting PEP and caregivers’ positive emotional expressions. Higher frequency of caregiver positivity was associated with greater HRV reactivity in caregivers but not children. Increased caregiver positivity was correlated with longer resting PEP in children. These results replicate findings of greater caregiver parasympathetic flexibility during positive caregiving and extend those findings to children’s resting sympathetic activity.

publication date

  • August 25, 2020

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • January 27, 2021 8:03 AM

Full Author List

  • Barkman H; Allan A; Salisbury MR; Knight EL; Karns C; Roos LE; Bell T; Pakulak E; Giuliano RJ

author count

  • 9

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