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Effect of Physical Contact (Hand-Holding) on Heart Rate Variability

Authors: T. Pishbin, S.M.P. Firoozabadi, N. Jafarnia Dabanloo, F. Mohammadi, S. Koozehgari


Heart-s electric field can be measured anywhere on the surface of the body (ECG). When individuals touch, one person-s ECG signal can be registered in other person-s EEG and elsewhere on his body. Now, the aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that physical contact (hand-holding) of two persons changes their heart rate variability. Subjects were sixteen healthy female (age: 20- 26) which divided into eight sets. In each sets, we had two friends that they passed intimacy test of J.sternberg. ECG of two subjects (each set) acquired for 5 minutes before hand-holding (as control group) and 5 minutes during they held their hands (as experimental group). Then heart rate variability signals were extracted from subjects' ECG and analyzed in linear feature space (time and frequency domain) and nonlinear feature space. Considering the results, we conclude that physical contact (hand-holding of two friends) increases parasympathetic activity, as indicate by increase SD1, SD1/SD2, HF and MF power (p<0.05) and decreases sympathetic activity, as indicate by decrease LF power (p<0.01) and LF/HF ratio (p<0.05).

Keywords: Autonomic nervous system (ANS), Hand- holding, Heart rate variability (HRV), Power spectral density analysis.

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