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Cardiac sensitivity in children: Sex differences and its relationship to parameters of emotional processing


  • Anne Koch,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
    • Address correspondence to: Anne Koch, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, D-14476 Potsdam, Germany. E-mail:

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  • Olga Pollatos

    1. Department of Health Psychology, Institute of Psychology and Education, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
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  • This study was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the Graduate School 1668/1. We thank all participants and collaborators for supporting this study.


In adults, the level of ability to perceive one's own body signals plays an important role for many concepts of emotional experience as demonstrated for emotion processing or emotion regulation. Representative data on perception of body signals and its emotional correlates in children is lacking. Therefore, the present study investigated the cardiac sensitivity of 1,350 children between 6 and 11 years of age in a heartbeat perception task. Our main findings demonstrated the distribution of cardiac sensitivity in children as well as associations with interpersonal emotional intelligence and adaptability. Furthermore, independent of body mass index, boys showed a significantly higher cardiac sensitivity than girls. We conclude that cardiac sensitivity in children appears to show weaker but similar characteristics and relations to emotional parameters as found in adults, so that a dynamic developmental process can be assumed.