Published:  2011

The predictive value of low heart rate and heart rate variability during stress for reoffending in delinquent male adolescents

Authors:  Marjan De Vries-Bouw, Arne Popma, Robert Vermeiren, Theo A. H. Doreleijers, Peter M. Van De Ven, Lucres M. C. Jansen

Tags:  Behavioral medicine, Children/infants, Heart rate

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Low autonomic (re)activity is a consistent correlate of antisocial behavior in juveniles. However, longitudinal research relating autonomic measures to persistent antisocial behavior has remained scarce. Therefore, in the present study we examined the predictive value of heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV, often studied as respiratory sinus arrhythmia) for reoffending in delinquent male adolescents. At initial assessment, HR and HRV were measured at rest and in response to a public speaking task. Registered reoffending was assessed after 5-year follow-up. Attenuated HR response and stronger HRV response to stress predicted higher reoffending rates. Results provide evidence that HR/HRV reactivity are neurobiological markers for persistent juvenile antisocial behavior. Although effect sizes were small to moderate, our findings underscore the consistency of the relationship between autonomic markers and antisocial behavior.