Pavlovian and Operant-Biofeedback Procedures Combined Produce Large-Magnitude Conditional Heart-Rate Decelerations

  • John J. Furedy
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 2)


There are some autonomically mediated changes such as heart-rate acceleration which have been shown by research of the last decade to be eminently affectable by operant-biofeedback procedures (e. g., Lang, 1974). However, as recent reviews of this sizeable body of research have clearly shown (e.g., Blanchard & Young, 1973), cardiac deceleration is quite refractory to biofeedback conditioning techniques. Specifically, biofeedback techniques which apply reinforcement or information from the outset in the operant-informational framework seem to be relatively ineffective in producing learned decelerations of anything over the order of 1–3 beats per minute (bpm), once proper controls for such factors as relaxation are instituted, and adequate samples of subjects (permitting statistical evaluation of the data) are tested.


Conditional Stimulus Classical Conditioning Pavlovian Conditioning Operant Shaping Conditional Stimulus Onset 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blanchard, E. E., & Young, L. D. Self-control and cardiac functioning: A promise as yet unfulfilled. Psychological Bulletin, 1973, 79, 145–163.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bruner, A. Reinforcement strengths in classical conditioning of leg flexing, freezing and heart rate in cats. Conditioned Reflex, 1969, 4, 24–31.Google Scholar
  3. Dawson, M. E., & Furedy, J. J. The role of awareness in human differential autonomic classical conditioning. The necessary-gate hypothesis. Psychophysiology, 1976, 13, 50–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Furedy, J. J. Test of the preparatory-adaptive-response interpretation of aversive classical autonomic conditioning. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1970, 84, 301–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Furedy, J. J., & Poulos, C. X. Heart-rate decelerative Pavlovian conditioning with tilt as UCS: Towards behavioural control of cardiac dysfunction. Biological Psychology, 1976, in press.Google Scholar
  6. Furedy, J. J., & Schiffmann, K. Interrelationships between human clas-sical differential electrodermal conditioning, orienting reaction, responsivity, and awareness of stimulus contingencies. Psychophysiology, 1974, 11, 58–67.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hilgard, E. R., & Bower, G. H. Theories of learning. New York: Appleton, 1966.Google Scholar
  8. Jones, J. E. Contiguity and reinforcement in relation to CS-UCS intervals in classical aversive conditioning. Psychological Review, 1962, 69, 176–186.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lang, P. J. Cardiovascular self-control: Determinants of performance and clinical implications. Paper presented in Symposium on “Biofeedback Conditioning,” 3rd Congress of the International College of Psychosomatic Medicine, Rome, September 1975.Google Scholar
  10. Perkins, C. C., Jr. An analysis of the concept of reinforcement. Psychological Review, 1968, 75, 155–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Popper, K. R. The logic of scientific discovery. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1960.Google Scholar
  12. Rescorla, R. A. Pavlovian conditioning and its proper control procedures. Psychological Review, 1967, 74, 71–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Skinner, B. F. The behavior of organisms: An experimental analysis. New York: Appleton, 1938.Google Scholar
  14. Wagner, A. R., & Rescorla, R. A. Inhibition in Pavlovian conditioning: Application of a theory. In R. A. Boakes & M. S. Halliday (Eds.), Inhibition and learning. New York: Academic Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  15. Wildenthal, K., Leshin, S. J., Atkins, J. M., & Skelton, C. L. The diving reflex used to treat paroxysmal atrial tachycardia. Lancet, January 4, 1975, 12–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Young, F. A. Classical conditioning of autonomic functions. In W. F. Prokasy (Ed.), Classical conditioning: A symposium. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1965.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Furedy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations