Analysis of heart rate variability and possibility of its utilization in psychology and psycho-physiology



Indices of heart rate variability are reliable and objective indicators of autonomic nervous systemtonus (of its sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions) which in its turn reflect the changes in psycho-emotional state of a person, development of stress or any kind of tension. The purpose of this article was to describethe contemporary methods of objective study of a person’s functional state by the definition of autonomic regulation of heart rate and also the review of foreign studies which discuss the possibility of utilizing this method in psychology and psychophysiology. The review describes two approaches to the analysis of heart rate variability: temporal and frequency-response analyses. The indices used for temporal analysis include average duration of RR-intervalsand percentage of couples of RR-intervals, differing in more than 50ms(рNN50). The indices of frequency-response analysis included intensity of HF component, reflecting influences of parasympathetic outflow; intensity of LF component, reflecting sympathetic influences; intensity of VLF components; correlation of LF and HF waves, reflecting vegetal balance.

General Information

Keywords: heart rate variability; temporal heart rate analysis; frequency-response (spectral) heart rate analysis; gender differences; meditation; depression; anxiety

Journal rubric: General Psychology

Article type: review article

For citation: Kovaleva A.V., Panova E.N., Gorbatchova A.K. Analysis of heart rate variability and possibility of its utilization in psychology and psycho-physiology [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2013. Vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 35–50. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Anastasia V. Kovaleva, PhD in Biology, Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Physiology of Human Functional States, P.K. Anokhin Research Institute of Normal Physiology, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Elena N. Panova, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, the chair of general psychology; Learning and Practice Laboratory of computation electro-physiology, a specialist for learning support, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Anna K. Gorbatchova, PhD in Biology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, the chair of general psychology; Learning and Practice Laboratory of computation electro-physiology, a laboratory assistant, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



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