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Am J Physiol. 1988 Jun;254(6 Pt 2):R1025-34.

Baroreflex unimpaired by operant avoidance or classical aversive conditioning in dogs.

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Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.


Previous studies showed that baroreflex control of heart rate is impaired during operant shock avoidance conditioning and classical aversive conditioning. However, the effects of such "emotionally stressful" paradigms on the ability of the baroreflex to control arterial pressure have not been directly assessed. We prepared the carotid sinus regions of dogs for reversible isolation from the systemic circulation, and we derived complete stimulus-response relations for the effects of carotid sinus pressure on both heart rate and arterial pressure. For any given carotid sinus pressure, arterial pressure and heart rate were higher during operant shock-avoidance conditioning and during classical aversive conditioning than in a neutral environment, which indicates an upward resetting of the baroreflex. However, threshold and saturation carotid sinus pressures were unaffected by operant conditioning or classical conditioning, which indicates that the baroreceptors themselves were not reset. The ranges over which the carotid baroreflex could vary arterial pressure and heart rate were significantly increased during both operant conditioning and classical conditioning. Baroreflex gain was unchanged during operant conditioning and was significantly increased during classical conditioning. We conclude that the baroreflex is not impaired during operant shock-avoidance conditioning or classical aversive conditioning in dogs. However, the baroreflex is reset and regulates blood pressure at an elevated level.

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