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Autonomic Regulation on the Stroop Predicts Reading Achievement in School Age Children


Derek R. Becker, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Oregon State University, 322 Milam Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331; e-mail:


In this study we examined high frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV, a parasympathetic index) both at rest and during challenge, to assess if variations in cardiovascular activity measured during a Stroop task could be used to predict reading achievement in typically developing children. Reading achievement was examined using the Peabody Individual Achievement Test–Revised. Results showed that greater HF-HRV suppression during both the Stroop word and Stroop word–color conflict tasks was associated with better reading achievement. Higher basal levels of HF-HRV did not predict better reading scores. These results are among the first to show a link between HF-HRV and reading achievement in a normative school age population, and offer new insight into the association between cognitive activity and autonomic regulation of the heart.