Measuring and analysing the peripheral psychophysiology of emotions and stress in children, adolescents and adults

Target group

Beginner level, participants do not need to have any prior experience with psychophysiology.


Measuring and analysing the peripheral psychophysiology of emotions and stress is relevant for a range of psychological research fields spanning from clinical to health, developmental, personality, social and occupational as well as cognitive and biological psychology and related disciplines. Yet measuring, indexing and interpreting data of the activity of the autonomic nervous system requires in depth theoretical knowledge of the physiological underpinnings besides practical knowledge in sensor application, amplifier technology and signal processing which will be covered in this workshop.


  • Foundations of the autonomic nervous system
  • Emotion and its effect on psychophysiology
  • Stress response: sympathetic and parasympathetic influence
  • Measurement of indices of the autonomic nervous system: Heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, skin conductance
  • Respiratory Sinus arrhythmia and how to measure it: RMSSD, time and frequency analyses (with respect for age and gender differences)
  • Multi-system: The co-functioning of multiple parameters
  • Analysis, scoring and interpretation of indices of the autonomic nervous system
  • Publication of findings from peripheral psychophysiology
  • New challenges of assessing psychophysiology in real-life

Objectives of the course

The goal of the current workshop is three-fold.

First, a theoretical overview will be provided concerning the peripheral psychophysiology of stress and emotions. This theoretical overview will provide insight into: a) the interactions between emotion and psychophysiology functioning, b) psychophysiological responses to (acute) stressors and c) the interactions between various peripheral systems, in particular the two branches of the autonomic nervous system.

Second, a practical, hands-on training will be given concerning the attachment of the electrodes, issues with attachment, registration of signals,..

Third, a practical training will be given concerning data-cleaning, analysis, scoring and interpretation of psychophysiological parameters. Specifically, the lecturer will provide knowledge about free software packages that can be used to clean and analyse psychophysiological data, with a specific focus on multichannel/multimeasure approaches (e.g., ANSLAB). After the workshop participants should have knowledge of the most common indices of the autonomic nervous system (e.g., heart rate, high-frequency heart-rate variability, electrodermal activity), their measurement, analysis, scoring, interpretation and of how to report findings for publication.



Autonomic nervous system basics and indices, issues of interpretation and current controversies. Student presentations: all students will pitch their work (approx. 5 minutes) and will receive detailed feedback (70% theoretical)

DAY 2 

Introduction to autonomic nervous system indices: Heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance, facial EMG, advanced measures (eye blink startle, blood pressure, impedance cardiography, respiration) (25% theory, 75% practical); practical session on how to apply the different electrodes, how to record the signal, artifacts, co-functioning of parameters,…


Import data and cleaning; difference between stress (e.g., TSST) and image based designs (e.g., Go/no-go task). Introduction to analysis of heart rate and heart rate variability in free software packages. Small introduction to ANSLAB Software (25% theory, 75% practical).

      Dates and Venue

      21, 23 & 24 February 2022 - ONLINE

      Teaching methods and material

      A combination of lectures (50%) and practical exercises (50%). PowerPoints and training videos will be available to the participants


      To register for the Specialist Course as a PhD student, please contact with the subject "Measuring and analysing the peripheral psychophysiology of emotions and stress in children, adolescents and adults" and with your name, affiliation and thesis title.

      Please read the cancellation policy.

      Registration fee

      Free of charge for Doctoral School members.

      Number of participants

      Maximum 13.

      Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

      80% attendance, hand in of analysis script and example write up of a psychophysiology paper method section.