A Comparison of Techniques for the Voluntary Slowing of Heart Rate in Humans
WALTER REED ARMY INST OF RESEARCH WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON
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The results of two experiments are reported which compared heart rate HR feedback to other techniques for eliciting voluntary HR slowing. The first experiment showed that HR feedback and EMG feedback both generated greater decreases in HR than a control task tracking a computer-generated display. However, neither type of feedback proved superior to corresponding instructions alone without feedback also, control subjects not receiving feedback performed just as well in an instructions-only period as subjects in the two feedback groups. This suggested that feedback was not a critical variable in slowing performance. The second experiment compared HR feedback to an analog of Transcendental Meditation. The latter approach proved superior to feedback, in both the standard paradigm of alternating work-rest cycles and a continuous fifteen-minute period. Meditation subjects also exhibited less perturbation in respiratory activity and greater decrements in frontalis EMG. The theoretical and clinical implications of these results were discussed.