Description: Higher levels of self-control in decision making have been linked to better psychosocial and physical health. A similar link to health outcomes has been reported for heart-rate variability (HRV), a marker of physiological flexibility. Here, we sought to link these two, largely separate, research domains by testing the hypothesis that greater HRV would be associated with better dietary self-control in humans. Specifically, we examined whether total HRV at sedentary rest (measured as the SD of normal-to-normal intervals) can serve as a biomarker for the neurophysiological adaptability that putatively underlies self-controlled behavior. We found that HRV explained a significant portion of the individual variability in dietary self-control, with individuals having higher HRV being better able to downregulate their cravings in the face of taste temptations. Furthermore, HRV was associated with activity patterns in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), a key node in the brain’s valuation and decision circuitry. Specifically, individuals with higher HRV showed both higher overall vmPFC blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity and attenuated taste representations when presented with a dietary self-control challenge. Last, the behavioral and neural associations withHRVwere consistent across both our stress induction and control experimental conditions. The stability of this association across experimental conditions suggests that HRV may serve as both a readily obtainable and robust biomarker for self-control ability across environmental contexts. This collection contains 2nd level correlations with individual heart rate variability (HRV). Key words: food choice, decision making, self-regulationCommunities: nutritional
Related article: http://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2815-16.2016
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