Impact Factor
This article is part of the Research Topic Neural Effects of Mindfulness/Contemplative Training

Clinical Trial ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 19 March 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00054

Meditation-induced changes in high-frequency heart rate variability predict smoking outcomes

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 2VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA
  • 3New England Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Centers, Connecticut VA Health Care System, West Haven, CT, USA

Background: High-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV) is a measure of parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) output that has been associated with enhanced self-regulation. Low resting levels of HF-HRV are associated with nicotine dependence and blunted stress-related changes in HF-HRV are associated with decreased ability to resist smoking. Meditation has been shown to increase HF-HRV. However, it is unknown whether tonic levels of HF-HRV or acute changes in HF-HRV during meditation predict treatment responses in addictive behaviors such as smoking cessation. Purpose: To investigate the relationship between HF-HRV and subsequent smoking outcomes. Methods: HF-HRV during resting baseline and during mindfulness meditation was measured within two weeks of completing a 4-week smoking cessation intervention in a sample of 31 community participants. Self-report measures of smoking were obtained at a follow up 17-weeks after the initiation of treatment. Results: Regression analyses indicated that individuals exhibiting acute increases in HF-HRV from resting baseline to meditation smoked fewer cigarettes at follow-up than those who exhibited acute decreases in HF-HRV (b = −4.89, p = 0.008). Conclusion: Acute changes in HF-HRV in response to meditation may be a useful tool to predict smoking cessation treatment response.

Keywords: heart rate variability, mindfulness, meditation, smoking cessation

Citation: Libby DJ, Worhunsky PD, Pilver CE and Brewer JA (2012) Meditation-induced changes in high-frequency heart rate variability predict smoking outcomes. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6:54. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00054

Received: 30 November 2011; Accepted: 29 February 2012;
Published online: 19 March 2012.

Edited by:

Amishi P. Jha, University of Miami, USA

Reviewed by:

J. David Creswell, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Charles Raison, University of Arizona, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Libby, Worhunsky, Pilver and Brewer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Judson A. Brewer, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, 950 Campbell Ave., Building 36, Room 142, West Haven, CT 06516, USA. e-mail: judson.brewer@yale.edu