Cardiovascular and affective recovery from anticipatory threat

Biol Psychol. 2010 May;84(2):169-75. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.01.010. Epub 2010 Jan 22.


Anticipating a stressor elicits robust cardiovascular and affective responses. Despite the possibility that recovery from these responses may have implications for physical and mental well-being, little research has examined this issue. In this study, participants either gave a public speech or anticipated giving a speech. Compared with speech-givers, participants who anticipated giving a speech, on average, exhibited similar cardiovascular recovery (decreased heart rate [HR] and increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA]), and reported lower negative affect during recovery. Only in the anticipation condition, however, were cardiovascular recovery and affective recovery associated: poor affective recovery predicted incomplete HR recovery and decreased RSA. These are the first data to compare explicitly recovery from anticipation of a stressor with recovery from the stressor itself. These findings suggest that failing to recover from anticipation has unique physiological costs that, in turn, may contribute to mental and physical illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arrhythmia, Sinus / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Self Concept
  • Speech
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Young Adult