Heart rate variability in individuals with autism spectrum disorders: A meta-analysis

Ying Chih Cheng, Yu Chen Huang, Wei Lieh Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Heart rate variability (HRV) in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been investigated in some studies but the procedures and results vary. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare HRV in individuals with and without ASD; the influence of different conditions and HRV indices is considered. Baseline HRV and HRV reactivity were analyzed in several ways: parasympathetic indices in hierarchical order (main analysis), total variability, specific parasympathetic indices and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), etc. The review covered 34 studies for quantitative analysis. Individuals with ASD had a significantly lower baseline HRV for parasympathetic indices in hierarchical order (Hedges'g=-0.5168, p < 0.0001) and RSA (g=-0.5860, p=0.0010). The reactivity of HRV in situations of social stress (g=-0.4647, p = 0.0033) and social debriefing (g=-0.5001, p = 0.0007) was also significantly lower in subjects with ASD. RSA reactivity was significantly lower in ASD group for all situations, with the largest effect size for social stress (g=-0.7246, p < 0.0001). The results support low HRV to be a potential biomarker of ASD, especially RSA reactivity under social stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-471
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Volume118
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Heart rate variability
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia
  • Social stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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