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We present preliminary evidence that heart rate information may influence performance on the method of constant stimuli task

Heart rate, heart rate variability, and heartbeat detection with the method of constant stimuli: slow and steady wins the race.

Biological Psychology, no. 3 (2005): 387-396

Cited by: 44|Views7
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Abstract

The literature on heartbeat detection is fraught with disagreement about appropriate methods. Some laboratories advocate the heartbeat counting method, whereas others advocate the method of constant (MCS) stimuli task. Advocates of the MCS task argue that the heartbeat counting task is confounded by expectancies of heart rate, whereas the...More

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Introduction
  • The field of heartbeat perception has received considerable attention from the scientific community for close to 30 years (Jones, 1994, for review).
  • Changes in heart rate produced by alterations in respiration and/or the striate musculature would not influence the temporal location of the external stimuli relative to the onset of the R-wave
  • For these reasons, it has generally been assumed that heart rate beliefs or estimates do not influence performance on these heartbeat detection tasks (Brener and Ring, 1995).
  • If a participant’s distribution of judgments deviates from chance, the individual is classified as a ‘‘heartbeat detector.’’
Highlights
  • The field of heartbeat perception has received considerable attention from the scientific community for close to 30 years (Jones, 1994, for review)
  • Heartbeat detection tasks based on ‘‘simultaneity paradigms’’ were developed to avoid the problems associated with tracking tasks
  • The current study examined the influence of sources of heart rate stimuli on the ability to detect heartbeat sensations in the method of constant stimuli (MCS) task
  • Heart rate and heart rate variability both appear to influence stimulus detection in the heartbeat detection task based on the MCS method
  • As a significant correlation between heart rate and heart rate variability was not observed in this study, the argument that heart rate and heart rate variability are largely separate factors that contribute to the variance in the ability to detect heartbeat sensations was supported
  • The results of the current study show that cardiac factors, such as heart rate and heart rate variability influence performance in the MCS task
Methods
  • Eighty-one undergraduates (26 males and 55 females) with a mean age of 20.47 years (S.D.
  • = 3.90) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook participated in four experiments over a 4-year span.
  • Participants received course credit for completion of the experiments.
  • A computer was programmed to present stimuli and collect trial data.
  • Auditory stimuli (1000 Hz tones presented for 10 ms at 75 dB SPL) were presented via a piezo-oscillator situated approximately two meters in front of the participant at ear level
Results
  • Analysis of individual chi-squares resulted in the identification of two groups, consisting of 27 heartbeat detectors and 54 non-detectors.
  • Heart rate and heart rate variability were subjected to multivariate analysis of variance with detector group as the independent variable.
  • Univariate t-tests were conducted in order to compare detectors and non-detectors with respect to heart rate and heart rate variability.
  • As predicted, detectors had significantly slower heart rates than non-detectors t (79) = 2.67, p < 0.01.
  • Detectors had significantly less heart rate variability than non-detectors, t (79) = 3.87, p < 0.001
Conclusion
  • Heart rate and heart rate variability both appear to influence stimulus detection in the heartbeat detection task based on the MCS method.
  • 17% of the variance in the ability to detect heartbeat sensations was accounted for by the combination of these factors.
  • As a significant correlation between heart rate and heart rate variability was not observed in this study, the argument that heart rate and heart rate variability are largely separate factors that contribute to the variance in the ability to detect heartbeat sensations was supported.
  • Slower heart rates may result in increased exposure to the sensations produced by the myocardial contraction, thereby increasing detection accuracy
Funding
  • This research was supported by National Institute of Health grant R01 HL42366 awarded to Jasper Brener
Study subjects and analysis
undergraduates: 81
. Eighty-one undergraduates (26 males and 55 females) with a mean age of 20.47 years (S.D. = 3.90) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook participated in four experiments over a 4-year span. Participants received course credit for completion of the experiments

undergraduates: 81
1.1. Participants

Eighty-one undergraduates (26 males and 55 females) with a mean age of 20.47 years (S.D. = 3.90) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook participated in four experiments over a 4-year span
. Participants received course credit for completion of the experiments. 1.2

undergraduates: 81
It was also hypothesized that individuals with slower heart rates would perform better on the MCS task. Eighty-one undergraduates (26 males and 55 females) with a mean age of 20.47 years (S.D. = 3.90) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook participated in four experiments over a 4-year span. Participants received course credit for completion of the experiments

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