Biofeedback-Assisted Heart Rate Deceleration: Specificity of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Effects in Normal and High Risk Subjects

  • Catherine M. Stoney
  • Alan W. Langer
  • James R. Sutterer
  • Paul D. Gelling
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 114)


An important theoretical issue in cardiovascular psychophysiology is whether biofeedback-assisted alterations in heart rate (HR) reflect only changes in cardiac function, are mediated indirectly by changes in somatic or respiratory responses, or reflect a common central nervous system integration of cardiac-somatic activity. In this connection, the first position was advanced by Miller and collaborators (Miller and DiCara, 1967; Miller and Banuazizi, 1968; DiCara and Miller, 1968), who argued that operant control of HR could be obtained in the absence of somatic mediation. This series of studies, employing the curarized preparation, putatively demonstrated that appreciable bidirectional HR changes could be conditioned independent of somatomotor activity. On the other hand, Obrist (1981) and others have been concerned with the common central coupling of cardiac and somatic processes during both classical (Obrist, 1968) and operant HR conditioning procedures. In an early classical aversive conditioning study with humans, a strong relationship between the magnitude and direction of phasic HR and somatomotor activity was noted (Obrist, 1968). Similarly, concomitant changes in HR and somatic activity were found during an operant conditioning paradigm that employed visual binary HR feedback for both HR acceleration and deceleration and a shock avoidance contingency (Obrist, Galosy, Lawler, Gaebelein, Howard and Shanks, 1975).


Operant Conditioning Reaction Time Task Pulse Transit Time Feedback Group Heart Rate Control 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine M. Stoney
    • 1
  • Alan W. Langer
    • 1
  • James R. Sutterer
    • 1
  • Paul D. Gelling
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Behavioral Physiology Laboratory, Department of PsychologySyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Department of Bioelectronics and Computer Sciences, Upstate Medical CenterState University of New YorkSyracuseUSA

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