, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 313-320

Temporal pattern and spectral complexity as stimulus parameters for eliciting a cardiacorienting reflex inhuman fetuses


The purpose of this study was to determine whether temporal pattern and/or spectral complexity were important stimulus parameters for eliciting a cardiac orienting reflex (OR) in low-risk human fetuses. Each of 28 term fetuses was exposed to four sounds formed from the four different combinations of temporal pattern (pulsed, continuous) and spectral complexity (sine wave, IsJ). The fetal cardiac electrical signal was captured transabdominally at a rate of 1024 Hz, and fetal R-waves were extracted by using adaptive signal-processing techniques. We found that pulsed sounds elicited a significantly greater decrease in heart rate (HR) than did continuous sounds. However, the HR response was relatively unaffected by spectral complexity. For the pure tone and the phoneme used in this study, our results indicate that temporal characteristics were more effective at eliciting a cardiac OR in human fetuses than was spectral complexity.

This work was supported by Research Grant 1R29 HD32767 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
—Accepted by previous editor, Myron L. Braunstein