Research Article| Volume 176, ISSUE 1-2, P78-84, June 2013

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Over-adaptation and heart rate variability in Japanese high school girls



      In the field of educational psychology in Japan, a model of “over-adaptation” has been applied to conceptualize the personality of students who are vulnerable to external stressors and prone to developing psychiatric problems. However, the influence of over-adaptation on physiological functions in adolescents is still largely unknown. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the association between an over-adapted tendency and autonomic nervous system activities in high school girls.


      Circadian profiles of cardiac autonomic nervous system activities in 47 normal high school girls were evaluated using time-domain measures of heart rate variability (HRV) taken from 24-h ambulatory electrocardiogram recordings, and their relation to an over-adaptation scale composed of 5 subscales was evaluated.


      A significant increase in RMSSD (root mean square of successive difference of normal-to-normal beat intervals) during daytime (09:00–14:00) was observed in students who scored high on the sum of the over-adaptation subscales (n = 6). Two of the over-adaptation subscales, namely, “self-restraint” and “self-insufficiency”, were positively correlated with time-domain measures.


      Parasympathetic activity in over-adapted students was elevated during school, and this autonomic response was suggested to be linked to over-adaptation subscales related to repressed emotions in over-adapted students. Thus, in over-adapted students, repressing emotions appears to be a style of coping, and may lead to a quiet, emotionally stable life in school, which in turn may result in parasympathetic activation.


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