Heart Rate Variability Analysis and Performance during a Repeated Mental Workload Task

Conference paper
Part of the IFMBE Proceedings book series (IFMBE, volume 65)


We designed and conducted an experiment using a repetitive task to investigate associations between mental workload, performance, and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) features across repetitions. According to the literature, we define mental workload as the interaction between a person and a task that causes task demands to exceed the person’s capacity to deliver. Mental workload was triggered by the use of a highly-paced video game repeated over time. Before engaging with the task, each subject was assessed in controlled condition (i.e., relaxing period) for a short time. Short term HRV features variations between the baseline (i.e., control situation) and each repetitive gaming session (i.e., mental task) were explored. The results show that HRV dynamics diminish with repetitions, while performance increases. Importantly, this suggests that HRV features can be well correlated with performance. Overall, this study advances the use of HRV analysis in the behavioral sciences at large, allowing the design of flexible neurophysiological lab-based experiments. Thus, it also opens the way to future autonomic behavioral neuroscience research.


HRV behavioral science mental workload mental stress performance 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EngineeringUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.School of BusinessVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Warwick Business School & GRP in Behavioral ScienceUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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