A comparison of heart rate variability and brain activation during emotional regulation in athletic groups

Heart-rate variability (HRV) may be used to index important aspects of brain control of the heart during emotional regulation. Yoga may enhance athletic performance, in part, by facilitating emotional regulation. Lululemon Athletica is interested in developing biofeedback devices designed to further enhance yoga related emotional regulation and for use to educate both their in-store work-force (i.e., educators) and clients (i.e., guests). Prior to the implementation of such techniques, the relationship between brain activation and HRV must be established. HRV has been shown to be a promising biofeedback measure during sport performance. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures task related brain activation, allowing the direct relationship between brain activation and HRV during emotional regulation to be evaluated. The Vancouver based company, Lululemon, and the Brain Behavior Lab (BBL) at the University of British Columbia will collaborate to test the effect of yoga practice on the relationship between HRV and brain activation through a combined HRV-fMRI approach. A group of expert yoga practitioners, recreational yoga practitioners, and recreational non-yoga athletes will be compared to determine whether yoga expertise enables higher HRV and related to patterns of brain activity during varied emotional stimuli. 

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Lara Boyd


Katie Wadden


Lululemon Athletica


Human physical performance and recreation


Apparel and textiles


University of British Columbia



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