Change in Heart Rate Variability During Stress Resilience Training in a Virtual Environment
Power spectrum analysis of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a non-invasive procedure that allows for proxy study of emotional regulation by measuring autonomic nervous function. Virtual reality (VR) has become an increasing popular means of administering exposure treatments for anxiety disorders due to the added safety and ability to exert more control over the environment. The present study was drawn from a larger study seeking to create an effective means of stress resilience training for armed forces members using virtual combat scenarios. To date, few studies have attempted to use HRV as an outcome measure in VR research. Although the ability to induce stress in a virtual environment has been well-established, the corresponding change in HRV has not been. In the present study, I investigated whether stress induced in VR would create expected changes in HRV and whether these changes would be different in different emotional states. Additionally, the effectiveness of the mentor training to increase HRV ratio was examined. Thirty-nine participants, including military cadets from the Navy/Marine Corps and Army as well as civilians, had fully usable data for analysis. The combat scenarios demonstrated significant difference from baseline using paired-samples t-tests. Mentor training was found to have no effect on HRV using mixed method repeated measures ANOVAs. HRV changes under different emotional stressors were only partially as hypothesized, with frustration appearing to play the largest role. Overall, results support the use of HRV in VR studies. Suggestions for improvement of mentor scenarios and directions for future research are included.
Marion, Sarah DeBoard
Heart beat, Heart rate monitoring, Stress, Combat
Material hosted by ProQuest subject to copyright