Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Cognitive Neuroscience


Yu Gao

Subject Categories

Cognitive Neuroscience


reactive aggression, proactive aggression, sleep, respiratory sinus arrhythmia


Current research evaluating the relationship between proactive and reactive aggression, sleep, and autonomic dysfunction has shown inconsistencies. The unique etiologies, manifestations, and presentation of these two aggressive subtypes have garnered much speculation, and research has shown mixed, and oftentimes conflicting, results. Generally speaking, insufficient sleep has been linked to increased agitation, cognitive impairment, emotional dysregulation, and poorer physical health. Many studies have provided support for an inverse relationship existing between sleep problems and sympathovagal health, implicating hypo- or hyper-autonomic function with proactive and reactive aggression, respectively. Concurrently and conflictingly, additional research has shown support for the exact opposite relationships between sleep problems and sympathovagal health, while some has also suggested that no significant correlations exist at all. The current study aimed to explore this further, investigating if respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a biomarker for emotion regulation and parasympathetic-mediated cardiac activity, was mediating the relationship between sleep and aggression among a sample of adolescents. The results of the study revealed that although sleep problems were positively associated with both types of aggression, no significant relationship were found between RSA and either sleep or aggression.