From the lab to the living room: examining challenges with the transition of heart rate variability measurement to real world contexts

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Jump, Owen
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University College Cork
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Cardiovascular activity has been widely incorporated as a measure in psychophysiological science in laboratory contexts and has been associated with a variety of health outcomes. In order to study patterns of heart rate in laboratory contexts, researchers have measured tonic/resting, and phasic/reactive Heart Rate Variability, hereafter HRV, and advances in technology enables prolonged periods of data capture. Although the quality of these data is still disputed, the transition to ambulatory measurement is accelerating and research that links ambulatory and laboratory contexts is timely. The PhD presented here describes challenges in laboratory and ambulatory measurement, including heart rate measurement and experience sampling considerations that arise in studies using comparative data from the laboratory and ecologically valid real-world contexts. Four studies are presented that combine as a body of work examining this area of enquiry, initially by detailing measurement of heart rate and how it responds to challenge in the laboratory and then how these measures extend to ecologically valid contexts. Study one (Chapter two) is a summary narrative review outlining the practical challenges and applications of ambulatory measurement of psychophysiological measures for adolescents, a cohort for whom different challenges in measurement may exist. The review encompasses ambulatory measurement, including sampling techniques heart rate, details practical approaches, and outlines questions for utilising available technologies, including the pragmatic aspects of collecting ambulatory data that are salient in working with adolescent participants. Study two (Chapter four) details a novel laboratory stressor paradigm that integrates technical adjustments to Electrocardiogram (ECG) measurement required for Heart Rate Variability (HRV) analysis. The study demonstrates the task efficacy, including an examination of anticipatory stress, and proposes its suitability as a potential replacement constituent or complementary task component for the Trier Social Stress Task (TSST). We suggest that this task can be considered where participants are required to have multiple interactions with the TSST, and where external habituation effects, such as rehearsal effects. Study three (Chapter five) presents an adaptation of the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) and demonstrates a novel means of assessing participant adherence to daily diary measures. It details observed patterns of participant adherence and implications for studies using DRM instrumentation, including the ability to assess data with a granularity that was not possible previously. The study details how the integration of retrospective and momentary sampling is desirable, in terms of the methodological benefits, the quality of data collected, and how this better reflects the concept of measurement surrounding the remembered and experiencing self, commenting on how this dichotomy should be resolved to better capture human experience. Study four (Chapter six) details how HRV measurement in ambulatory contexts, laboratory measures, and experience sampling are combined in the major study for this PhD. Study four extends the measurement of participants’ HRV patterns from laboratory contexts, and then using HRV measures and experience sampling, examines how they relate to ambulatory patterns captured across four full days of 24 hour-a-day measurement for each participant. This study examines patterns of baseline and stressor HRV inside the laboratory, extends to measure matched ambulatory measurement rest periods, and finally laboratory reactivity patterns and ambulatory baselines. Multilevel modelling is used to describe group and fixed effects and how participants’ patterns of HRV change or remain similar as they move across conditions. The study demonstrates a novel means of screening ambulatory data, using affective patterns and experience sampling to associate it with laboratory measures for HRV type studies. The combined work presented provides novel insights into laboratory and ambulatory measurement of HRV and provides evidence for the linking measurement in both contexts.
Psychology , Psychobiology , Heart rate variability , Experience sampling , Ecological validity
Jump, O. 2021. From the lab to the living room: examining challenges with the transition of heart rate variability measurement to real world contexts. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.