Heart Rhythm Coherence – An Emerging Area of Biofeedback
Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.i, HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, Boulder Creek, CA
Copyright © 2002 by AAPB. Posted with permission from AAPB/Biofeedback. For more information on AAPB and Biofeedback magazine, go to: www.aapb.org
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The analysis of heart rate variability (HRV), or heart rhythms, provides a reliable measure of autonomic nervous system dynamics that is particularly sensitive to changes in psychophysiological state. Whereas common methods of HRV analysis typically quantify the amount of variability in a given recording, additional information can be gained by heart rhythm pattern analysis. Research has shown that sustained positive emotions lead to a highly efficient and regenerative functional mode associated with increased coherence in heart rhythm patterns and greater synchronization and harmony among physiological systems. A new development in biofeedback technology is the recent introduction of heart rhythm feedback trainers, which monitor heart rhythm patterns and help people develop skills to maintain states of increased physiological coherence. The use of pulse wave sensors makes this technology extremely versatile, time-efficient, and easy to use in a wide variety of settings. Heart rhythm feedback trainers are currently utilized in medical, mental health, corporate, and academic settings to improve clinical, psychological, and performance outcomes. This technology holds promise as a powerful and practical tool for the enhancement of health and human potential.