CONTROL OF BLOOD PRESSURE IN MAN BY OPERANT CONDITIONING.
HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL BOSTON MASS DEPT OF PSYCHIATRY
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An automatic procedure was used to provide information to subjects on relative changes in systolic blood pressure on each successive heartbeat. Seven subjects were reinforced for raising and seven for lowering their pressure in a 30-mintraining session. Systolic pressure was found to diverge significantly as a result of training in these two conditions, replicating previous findings. In an additional group of seven subjects who were reinforced at random, the pressure fell midway between the other two conditions. After a 10-min. rest, the 21 subjects were studied in a second session in which they were all reinforced for lowering their systolic pressure. The pattern of change in pressure was significantly different in the two sessions, offering evidence for a transfer of training effect. The conditioned variations in pressure were found unrelated to heart rate, respiration, and verbal reports. The results of the study suggest a possible approach to lowering blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension. Author
- Anatomy and Physiology