Committee Chair

Clark, Amanda J.

Committee Member

Ferrier, David E.; Black, Kristen Jennings, 1991-


Dept. of Psychology


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The prefrontal cortex of the brain filters a variety of competing demands in order to appropriately execute goals and intentions (Cooper & Shallice, 2000). This region is also critical for controlling visual attention (Stuss, Shallice, Alexander, & Picton, 1995) and regulating the autonomic nervous system and heart rate variability (HRV) (Thayer & Lane, 2000). Each of these processes has been examined separately, but none have explored the relationships among them. The current study examined visual attention, executive functioning, and HRV in undergraduate ROTC cadets. Forty-one cadets participated in this study wherein executive function was measured via self-report questionnaires, visual attention was assessed with a modified Flanker task, and HRV was measured twice weekly over a twelve-week period. Results revealed a moderate relationship between participants’ executive function (particularly those items related to behavioral regulation) and HRV. However, neither reaction time nor accuracy on the modified Flanker task was associated with HRV.


I would like to acknowledge my committee chair, my advisor Dr. Amanda Clark. She has been my main partner on this academic rollercoaster for the last four and a half years. I would never have actualized my dreams if she had not taken a chance on the curious research assistant who nestled her way into the Assessing Cognition Lab. I cannot thank her enough for the late-night edits, showing compassion far beyond what I deserved at times, and her dedication to seeing this process from beginning to end. Her influence can be seen in the ways I interact with the world, from using her techniques in aiding explanation of the brain/behavior connection to my grandmother, all the way to my vastly improved (and more colorful!) organizational skills. I would also like to acknowledge the other members of my committee, Dr. Kristen Black and Dr. David Ferrier, for their insightful comments, suggestions and commitment to this (at times) never ending process. I would also like to acknowledge my fiancée: Nate Scarbeck for his love and support throughout the last two years by allowing himself be secondary to academia; my peers: Sally Swanson for the unlimited amount of all-nighters, “therapizing”, snacks, fresh pots, and unconditional love; and my favorite people to experience Imposter Syndrome with: Cameron Mackey, Aaron Eldridge, Kevin Alton, Morgan Andrews, Kathryn Graeff, Taylor Hutson, and Aishani Eggenberger. Finally, I appreciate the support of the UTC Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for funding this research.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Psychology -- Research -- Methodology


Executive function; Selective attention; Heart rate variability; ROTC



Document Type

Masters theses




42 leaves





Included in

Psychology Commons