Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Charles Carlson

Abstract

Evidence suggests that slow paced diaphragmatic breathing (DB) can significantly affect prefrontal cortex functions through increasing an individual’s physiological self-regulatory capacity. The current research demonstrates the effects of paced DB on inhibitory control, which is considered to be a reliable measure of behavioral self-regulation. Eighty healthy participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions (20 males and females each). Participants were instructed on either DB at a pace of six-breaths per minute (BPM) or instructions on environmental awareness and asked to breathe at 12 BPM. Following training, all participants completed a computer-based task designed to examine inhibitory processes. Physiological recordings of heart rate (HR), BPM, and HRV were collected at baseline, during the breathing training, during the cued go/no-go task, and after the cued go/no-go task. The findings demonstrated that the DB condition had significantly lower BPM, HR, and higher HRV (p’s<0.05) during active training than the environmental awareness condition. Furthermore, the DB condition performed significantly better on the measure of inhibition than the environmental awareness condition (p<0.05). The use of DB as a reliable method to increase physiological self-regulatory capacity and improve behavioral self-regulation, measured as inhibitory control, should continue to be explored.

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