Cardiac vagal control as a marker of emotion regulation in healthy adults: A review

Stefania Balzarotti*, Federica Biassoni, B. Colombo, Barbara Colombo, Maria Rita Ciceri

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review

91 Citazioni (Scopus)


In the last two decades, a growing body of theory and research has targeted the role of cardiac vagal control (CVC) in emotional responding. This research has either focused on resting CVC (also denoted as cardiac vagal tone) or phasic changes in CVC (also denoted as vagal reactivity) in response to affective stimuli. The present paper is aimed at reporting a review of the papers published between 1996 and 2016, and focused on the results of 135 papers examining cardiac vagal control as a physiological marker of emotion regulation in healthy adults. The review shows that studies have employed a wide array of methodologies and measures, often leading to conflicting results. High resting CVC has been associated with better down-regulation of negative affect, use of adaptive regulatory strategies, and more flexible emotional responding. Concerning phasic changes, research has consistently found decreased CVC in response to stress, while CVC increases have been shown to reflect either self-regulatory efforts or recovery from stress. Despite conflicting results, we conclude that existing literature supports the use of CVC as a noninvasive, objective marker of emotion regulation.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)54-66
Numero di pagine13
RivistaBiological Psychology
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017


  • Cardiac vagal control
  • Cardiac vagal tone
  • Emotion regulation
  • Heart rate variability
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia
  • Vagal reactivity
  • Vagal recovery


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