Analytic and Holistic Thinkers: Differences in the Dynamics of Heart Rate Complexity When Solving a Cognitive Task in Field-Dependent and Field-Independent Conditions
Analytic and holistic thinking styles are known to be associated with individual differences in various aspects of behavior and brain activity. In this study, we tested a hypothesis that differences in thinking styles may also be manifested at the level of neuro-visceral coordination. Heart rate variability (HRV) was compared between analytic and holistic thinkers at rest, during a simple motor choice reaction time task and when solving cognitive choice reaction time tasks in conditions with varying instructions contrasting the role of the field when evaluating objects. Participants (N = 52) with analytic and holistic thinking styles were equally successful at solving the cognitive tasks but response times were longer in the analytic group, compared to the holistic group. Heart rate complexity, as measured by sample entropy, was higher in the analytic group during the cognitive tasks but did not differ from the holistic group at rest or during the simple motor task. Analytic participants had longer response times and higher heart rate complexity when evaluating objects in relation to the field than when evaluating objects irrespective to the field. No difference in response times or heart rate complexity between tasks was observed in the holistic group. Our findings demonstrate that differences in individual behavior, including those related to holistic and analytic thinking styles, can be reflected not only in brain activity, as shown previously using fMRI and EEG methods, but also at the level of neuro-visceral coordination, as manifested in heart rate complexity.