Heart Rate Variability in Normal Adults

  • R. I. Kitney
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 114)


With the development of Cybernetics, Weiner (1948) showed that there was considerable potential in the application to the study of biological systems of techniques of analysis normally employed in the physical sciences. Within the broad range of physiological oscillations is a subgroup which occurs in physiological systems involved in homeostasis. Such systems have the potential for oscillatory behavior because their distributed nature allows the existence of significant time delays in reflex arcs. Physiological systems of this type can be considered as a number of different elements linked together, typically by neural pathways, to give the negative feedback necessary for homeostasis. Often such systems behave as spontaneous oscillators (Hyndman, Kitney and Sayers, 1971), the frequency of oscillation being determined by the characteristics of the system. A change in these characteristics can be considered to be equivalent to changing the setting of an oscillator so that it takes up a new and normally stable oscillatory mode. It is possible to envisage the human body as containing a number of systems which frequently oscillate. There is also evidence that biological systems which oscillate at frequencies higher than that consistent with the 24-hour day interact with each other, e.g. the interaction between the heart rate control and the respiration.


Heart Rate Variability Tidal Volume Amplitude Spectrum Physiological System Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. I. Kitney
    • 1
  1. 1.Engineering in Medicine Laboratory, Department of Electrical EngineeringImperial CollegeLondon SW7UK

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