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|Title:||Change in Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (RSA) And Executive Function in Adolescent Males with Learning Disabilities|
|Abstract:||Learning disabilities (LDs) are often comorbid with self-regulation disorders such as ADHD and anxiety. Youth with LDs experience challenges with attention, impulsivity, and cognitive flexibility, and as a result of repeated failure, may display a pattern of experiential avoidance (EA) as a means of coping with a challenge. Integra Mindfulness Martial Arts [MMA] is a group treatment integrating mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy with martial arts training. While MMA has been shown to reduce externalizing behaviors and anxiety, we know little about its psychophysiological correlates. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) is an index of heart rate variability that reflects individual differences in self-regulation, with lower levels associated with anxiety and ADHD. The sample included 26 males, aged 12 to 16 years diagnosed with LD and self-regulation challenges, enrolled in a 20-week MMA intervention (MMA; n=19), and waitlist controls (WL; n=5). Resting RSA was indexed at pre and post-intervention and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) parent-report measure was collected. After intervention, I found increased resting RSA in the MMA group only. However, this change was not statistically significant, possibly due to low statistical power. Youth in the MMA group significantly improved in their ability to independently generate appropriate problem-solving strategies from pre- to post-MMA. Youth also significantly improved in their ability to anticipate future events, plan steps towards attaining goals, and appreciate main concepts when communicating information. Findings suggest that MMA may improve self-regulatory mechanisms that support appropriate emotion and behaviour regulation, suggesting there may be plasticity within these systems. The present study provides preliminary evidence of the malleability of psychophysiological correlates of self-regulation and improvements in executive functioning in response to an MMA intervention within this population.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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