Heart rhythm variation during affective pictures viewing in women in different phases of the menstrual cycle

V. Kravchenko, K. Demidova
Bogomolets National Medical University, Kyiv; Bogomolets National Medical University, Kyiv


The peculiarities of the dynamics of the spectral indices of cardiac rhythm variability in 32 women 17-23 years of age while viewing emotional IAPS (International affective picture system) images in different phases of the menstrual cycle were studied. It is shown that the differences in the regulation of the heart rhythm associated with viewing emotional images of different types are manifested mainly in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. During this period, significant differences in viewing emotional images of different types were found in the absolute and relative power of the very low-frequency (VLF) and high-frequency (HF) component of the spectrum. In the ovulation phase, emotion-sensitive markerwas a lowfrequency spectrum component (LF), reflecting the effect of the sympathetic nervous system on cardiac rhythm. This indicator was significantly higher when viewing unpleasant images compared to pleasant and erotic visual stimuli.The contribution of the sympathetic division to the regulation of cardiac rhythm was observed during viewing of negative and neutral images, and only the viewing of erotic images was characterized by an increase in parasympathetic activity, which was accompaniedwith the increased power of the high-frequency component of the spectrum (HF) reducing the proportion of LF/HF and respiratory rate. The study shows that during the menstrual cycle, the autonomic balance shifts toward the predominance of sympathetic regulation of the heart rhythm, which reaches a maximum in the luteal phase. In this regard, the activity level of the sympathetic link recorded by the power of the low-frequency (LF) component while viewing unpleasant images was the lowest in the follicular phase and the highest in the luteal one. No significant differences were found between the spectral indices of cardio-interval variability when viewing emotional images in the luteal phase, indicating that this period of the cycle was low informative to assess the characteristics of women's emotional response based on heart rate analysis.


menstrual cycle phases, IAPS image, emotions, heart rate variability, autonomic balance

Full Text:



Low A. Heart rate variability: New perspectives on assessment of stress and health risk at the workplace / A. Low, R/ McCraty // Heart & Mind J. – 2018. – Vol.2(1). – P.16-27.

Shi H. Differences of Heart Rate Variability Between Happiness and Sadness Emotion States: A Pilot Study / H. Shi, L. Yang, L. Zhao // J. Med. Biol. Eng. – 2017. – Vol. 37. – P. 527.

Yasuma F. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia: why does the heartbeat synchronize with respiratory rhythm? / F. Yasuma, J. Hayano // Chest. – 2004.Vol.125(2) – P.683-690.

Goldstein J. M. Hormonal cycle modulates arousal circuitry in women using functional magnetic resonance imaging / J. M. Goldstein, M. Jerram, R. Poldrack et al. // J. Neurosci.-2005. – Vol. 25. – P. 9309-9316.

Dreher J. C. Menstrual cycle phase modulates reward-related neural function in women / J. C. Dreher, P. J. Schmidt, P. Kohn et al. // PNAS. – 2007. – Vol. 104. – P. 2465-2470.

Sherwin B. B. Estrogen and cognitive functioning in women / B. B. Sherwin // Endocrine Reviews. – 2003. – Vol. 24. – P. 133-151.

Weiser M. J. Estrogen receptor beta in the brain: from form to function / M. J. Weiser, C. D. Foradori, R. J. Handa // Brain research reviews. – 2008. – Vol. 57. – P. 309-320.

Van Wingen G. How progesterone impairs memory for biologically salient stimuli in healthy young women / G. van Wingen, F. van Broekhoven, R. J. Verkes et al. // J. Neurosci. – 2007. – Vol. 27. – P. 11416-11423.

Heilman K. M. The neurobiology of emotional experience / K. M. Heilman // J. Neuropsychiatry Clin. Neurosci. – 1997. – Vol. 9. – P. 439-448.

Lang P. J. International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual / P. J. Lang, M. M. Bradley, B. N. Cuthbert. – NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion & Attention. University of Florida, 2005. – 9 p.

Heart rate variability. Standards of measurements, physiological interpretation, and clinical use. Task force of the European society of cardiology and the North American society of pacing and electrophysiology // Eur. Heart J. – 1996. – Vol.17. – P. 354-381.

McCraty R. Heart rate variability: New perspectives on physiological mechanisms, assessment of self-regulatory capacity, and health risk / R. McCraty, F. Shaffer // Glob Adv Health Med. – Vol. 2015(4). – P. 46-61.

Reyes del Paso G. A. The utility of low frequency heart rate variability as an index of sympathetic cardiac tone: A review with emphasis on a reanalysis of previous studies / G.A. Reyes del Paso, W.Langewitz, L.J.Mulder, A. van Roon, S.Duschek // Psychophysiology – Vol. 2013(50) – P.477-87.

Bai X. Influence of the menstrual cycle on nonlinear properties of heart rate variability in young women / X. Bai, J. Li, L. Zhou, X. Li // Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol.- 2009. – Vol. 297(2). – P.765-774.

Brar T. Effect of Different Phases of Menstrual Cycle on Heart Rate Variability (HRV) / T. K. Brar, K. D. Singh, A. Kumar // J. ClinDiagn Res. – 2015. – Vol. 9(10). – CC01–CC4.

Derntl B. Facial emotion recognition and amygdala activation are associated with menstrual cycle phase / B. Derntl, C. Windischberger, S. Robinson et al. // Psychoneuro endocrinology. – 2008. – Vol.33. – P. 1031-1040.

Kirschbaum C. Impact of gender, menstrual cycle phase, and oral contraceptives on the activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis / C. Kirschbaum, B. M. Kudielka, J. Gaabet al. // Psychosomatic medicine. – 1999. – Vol.61. – P. 154-162.

Kravchenko V. Heart ratevariation in different phases of menstrual cycle / V. І. Kravchenko, J. S. Demchenko, К. Ju. Maksimovich, M. Ju. Makarchuk // Visnyk Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Biology. – 2008. – № 52-53. – P. 52-55.

Rupp H. Neural activation in the orbitofrontal cortex in response to male faces increases during the follicular phase / H. A. Rupp, T. W. James, E. D. Ketterson, D. R. Sengelaub, E. Janssen, J. R. Heiman // HormBehav. – 2009 – Vol. 56(1). – P.66-72.

Shirazi T. N. Menstrual cycle phase predicts women's hormonal responses to sexual stimuli / T. N. Shirazi, J. A. Bossio, D. A. Puts, M. L. Chivers // Horm Behav. – 2018. – Vol. 103. – P. 45-53.

Munk A. Fluctuations of estradiol during women's menstrual cycle: Influences on reactivity towards erotic stimuli in the late positive potential / A. J. Munk, A. C. Zoeller, J. Hennig // Psychoneuro endocrinology. – 2018. – Vol. 91. – P. 11-19.

Received: 20.01.2020

Revised: 21.02.2020

Signed for the press: 21.02.2020

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17721/1728_2748.2020.80.35-40


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Лицензия Creative Commons
This journal is available according to the Creative Commons License «Attribution» («Атрибуція») 4.0 Global (CC-BY).