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Percept Mot Skills. 1978 Aug;47(1):79-85.

Information variables in voluntary control and classical conditioning of heart rate: field dependence and heart-rate perception.


Two experiments focused on two information variables relevant to changes in heart rate, field dependence and the ability to perceive one's own heart rate. In Exp. I, 14 field-independent and 17 field-dependent subjects completed a heart-rate perception and a voluntary heart-rate control task. The anticipated superiority in heart-rate control by field-independent subjects was detected although no evidence was found for a relationship between the amount of biofeedback available in the situation and voluntary control of the cardiovascular system. Exp. II involved 9 field-independent and 8 field-dependent subjects in a classical conditioning paradigm involving shock sensitivity. In contrast with Exp. I, in this phase of the study heart-rate increases were correlated with the ability of the subject to discriminate heart beats, especially for the field-independent group. It was concluded that field dependence and heart-rate perception are related to classically conditioned heart-rate increase for some subjects and further that field dependence may be a potent variable operating in those situations involving the voluntary control of heart rate without exteroceptive feedback.

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