Congrats to Ashley M. Battaglini, Bronwen Grocott, Ellen Jopling, Dr. Katerina Rnic, Dr. Alison Tracy, and Dr. Joelle LeMoult for this new publication!
Abstract: In children and adults, individual differences in patterns of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA; i.e., interactions between resting RSA and RSA reactivity to stress) have emerged as a central predictor of internalizing symptoms. However, it is unclear whether individual differences in patterns of RSA also contribute to internalizing symptoms during the key developmental period of early adolescence, when rates of internalizing symptoms sharply increase. In the present multi-wave longitudinal study, we assessed whether patterns of RSA predicted trajectories of the two most common types of internalizing symptoms among adolescents: anxiety and depression. In the baseline session, we assessed RSA at rest and in response to a psychosocial stressor (Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]) in a sample of 75 early adolescents (Mage = 12.85). Youth then completed measures of anxiety and depressive symptoms at baseline and four times over approximately two years. Findings indicate that RSA patterns predicted trajectories of anxiety, but not depression. Specifically, region of significance analyses indicated that individuals with high resting RSA who demonstrated RSA augmentation to the lab stressor evinced decreasing anxiety overthe follow-up period. In direct contrast, adolescents with high resting RSA in combination with RSA withdrawal to the stressor exhibited a trajectory of increasing anxiety. Findings provide preliminary evidence for understanding RSA as a developmentally salient risk or protective factor.