Biomedical Signal Processing and Control, 38, 67–73p. (2017) DOI:10.1016/j.bspc.2017.05.006

Do men and women have different ECG responses to sad pictures?

A. Goshvarpour, A. Abbasi, A. Goshvarpour

Gender differences in emotional experience are the subject of many physiological and psychological investigations. However, the effect of gender differences on the affective electrocardiogram (ECG) signals has not been well established. This study was aimed to compare the emotional ECG responses of males with that of females by means of signal processing techniques. It has been also attempted to determine which features can properly show the physiological differences of two groups during sad stimuli. For this purpose, time-, frequency-, wavelet-, and nonlinear- based approaches were examined. Applying the Wilcoxon rank sum test, significant differences between the groups were inspected. The analysis was performed on 47 college students. The effect of data length on the results was also investigated. The best results were achieved using the data length of 10 s with an overlap of 50%. In this case, the nonlinear features outperformed the other measures. 82.43% of nonlinear features, 73.33% of Db4 wavelet measures, and 64.29% of time and frequency indices showed significant differences between ECG parameters of men and women. Specifically, recurrence quantification measures and lagged Poincare indices have the best performance. In conclusion, the results of this study emphasize the efficiency of nonlinear features in the analysis of physiological signals in a negative emotional state. In addition, ECG signals can confidently serve as an indicator of emotional responses.

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