The mindful attention and awareness scale is associated with lower levels of high-frequency heart rate variability in a laboratory context.

Author: Watford TS1, O'Brien WH1, Koerten HR1, Bogusch LM1, Moeller MT1, Sonia Singh R1, Sims TE1
1Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.
Conference/Journal: Psychophysiology.
Date published: 2019 Nov 17
Other: Volume ID: e13506 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1111/psyp.13506. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 207

Trait mindfulness has been associated with well-being. A key component of trait mindfulness is intentional attention and awareness which is most commonly measured by the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS). This study investigated the relationship between the MAAS and cardiovascular (HF-HRV, heart rate) reactivity to two laboratory stressors that evoked different patterns of change in heart rate (HR). One stressor (viewing a video of a surgery) evoked HR deceleration while the other stressor (mental arithmetic) evoked HR acceleration. Undergraduate students completed the MAAS and were then exposed to the two stressors while ECG (electrocardiography) was recorded. Findings support the reliability of the stressors to induce expected differential cardiovascular responses and explicate the role of parasympathetic activation. Further, a main effect for MAAS was observed indicating that across laboratory conditions, persons scoring higher on the MAAS had lower HF-HRV relative to persons scoring lower on the MAAS. These findings suggest that higher levels of intentional attention and awareness in a laboratory context might promote parasympathetic withdrawal because these participants were more vigilant, experienced higher cognitive load, and detected more threat cues. Implications for the MAAS and cardiovascular responses to stress are discussed.

© 2019 Society for Psychophysiological Research.

KEYWORDS: attention; cardiovascular; heart rate variability; mindfulness; stressors

PMID: 31737916 DOI: 10.1111/psyp.13506