Heart Rate Variability and Earth’s Cosmic Environment
Rollin McCraty, Michael Atkinson, Abdullah Alabdulgader, and York Dobyns
From 1 March 2012 through 31 August 2012, a long-term project collected heart- rate variability (HRV) data from 16 volunteer participants in Saudi Arabia. Ten different HRV measures were collected. At the same time, data were collected on 12 variables of the geomagnetic or cosmic environment. Both data sets were summarized hourly. The hypothesis that human HRV measures might react to these environmental influences was tested by performing multivariate regression analysis after removing circadian influences from both datasets. The first conclusion of this analysis was that individual participants showed a great deal of idiosyncratic variation in their HRV responses. Although intrinsically interest- ing, these individual variations added enough complexity of interpretation that all further analyses were based on population averages across the 16 participants. In these averages, statistical evidence for a reaction is quite strong: of the 120 tests for 10 HRV measures against 12 environment variables, 74 (62%) show p < 0.05 significance, while 31 (26%) show p < 0.001 significance. The lowest p-value found in any test, after Bonferroni correction for the full number of tests performed, becomes p = 1.91e-14. HRV measures of particular interest are Inter-Beat Interval (IBI), log High-Frequency power, and normalized Low- and High-Frequency power, each of which show significant reactions to 10 of the 12 environmental variables. Environment variables of particular interest include the Schumann resonance, the F10.7 index, and cosmic ray counts, which show reactions in 10, 9, and 8 HRV measures, respectively. The scale of the regression coefficients suggests that the effects of these environment variables may account for about 2% to 8% of heart rate variability.
York Dobyns (presenting co-author) received his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University in 1987 and has been a Full Member of the SSE since the early 1990s. He worked at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Laboratory from late 1987 until its closure in early 2007. Since then he has worked for several research projects at Princeton and elsewhere. Currently he is doing software development and database management for the Kentucky Cancer Registry while serving part-time as an analytical consultant for the HeartMath Institute.