, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 1-27

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback as a Method for Assessing Baroreflex Function: A Preliminary Study of Resonance in the Cardiovascular System

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This study describes the use of a biofeedback method for the noninvasive study of baroreflex mechanisms. Five previously untrained healthy male participants learned to control oscillations in heart rate using biofeedback training to modify their heart rate variability at specific frequencies. They were instructed to match computer-generated sinusoidal oscillations with oscillations in heart rate at seven frequencies within the range of 0.01–0.14 Hz. All participants successfully produced high-amplitude target-frequency oscillations in both heart rate and blood pressure. Stable and predictable transfer functions between heart rate and blood pressure were obtained in all participants. The highest oscillation amplitudes were produced in the range of 0.055–0.11 Hz for heart rate and 0.02–0.055 Hz for blood pressure. Transfer functions were calculated among sinusoidal oscillations in the target stimuli, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration for frequencies at which subjects received training. High and low target-frequency oscillation amplitudes at specific frequencies could be explained by resonance among various oscillatory processes in the cardiovascular system. The exact resonant frequencies differed among individuals. Changes in heart rate oscillations could not be completely explained by changes in breathing. The biofeedback method also allowed us to quantity characteristics of inertia, delay, and speed sensitivity in baroreflex system. We discuss the implications of these findings for using heart rate variability biofeedback as an aid in diagnosing various autonomic and cardiovascular system disorders and as a method for treating these disorders.