Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 107–114 | Cite as

Heart Rate Recovery Predicts Memory Performance in Older Adults

  • Ann PearmanEmail author
  • Margie E. Lachman


The current study examined cardiovascular reactivity and recovery during memory testing in a sample of 28 younger and 28 older adults. Heart rate (HR) levels were measured before, during, and after a memory test (word list recall). Contrary to prediction, older adults did not have a blunted cardiovascular response to memory tasks compared to younger adults. Word list recall performance was predicted by both Age and an Age × HR recovery interaction. As expected, younger adults performed better on the word list task than older adults. In addition, older adults with better posttest HR recovery performed significantly better than older adults with poor posttest HR recovery, whereas HR recovery differences in younger adults were inconsequential. These relationships were not affected by subjective appraisals of anxiety and task difficulty. Overall, cardiac dysregulation, seen here as low HR recovery, represents an important, potentially modifiable, factor in memory performance in older adults. In addition to being beneficial to overall health, interventions designed to help older adults regulate their HR responses may help offset certain memory declines.


Cardiovascular reactivity Heart rate recovery Heart rate reactivity Age-differences Memory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gerontology InstituteGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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