The effect of attentional load on the breathing pattern in children


Journal Article


Denot-Ledunois, S., Vardon, G., Perruchet, P., Gallego, J.




The effect of attentional load on the breathing pattern in children

Journal / Livre / Conférence

International Journal of Psychophysiology


Experiments designed to establish the effects of video games on breathing patterns have led to contradictory results. Several authors reported that video games tended to increase breathing frequency (i.e. to reduce breath duration), whereas others reported the opposite. We postulated that video games contain different psychophysiological components which may have opposite effects on breathing pattern. On the one hand, arousal and emotion may tend to stimulate breathing. On the other, focusing attention on the game may prompt subject to inhibit any movement - including breathing - which might be a potential nuisance variable. The aim of this study was to assess the specific effects of the attentional load in an experimental environment characterized by its low emotional impact. We measured breathing variables, cardiac frequency and cortisol levels in 10 healthy children (mean age = 9.2 +/- 1.5 years) who were familiar with the environment, the experimenter and the video game. Breath duration rose significantly, from 2.56 to 3.16 s, as a function of game difficulty. Cortisol levels, heart rate and the thoracic contribution to breathing displayed no significant changes. Taken together, these data suggest that focusing attention on the game tended to inhibit breathing and that previous contradictory reports in this respect were due to the confounding effects of emotion.








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