The impact of cardiac feedback on human cognition

Martins, Amadeu Manuel Quelhas (2011). The impact of cardiac feedback on human cognition. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


Download (1MB)


Afferent feedback from arterial baroreceptors modulates sensorimotor responses, but it is unknown whether it can also interfere with high-order cognition. In Study One, electrocutaneous stimuli (ranging from non-painful to very painful) were randomly delivered across the cardiac cycle. Pain ratings were highest at R+300 ms, whereas nociceptive reflex responses did not vary. Study Two followed up these findings by presenting the stimuli in blocks of either ascending or descending intensities. Nociceptive responses to painful stimuli were attenuated during systole; pain ratings did not vary regardless of stimulus intensity. Study Three compared both schedules of stimulation independently of cardiac cycle timings. When unpredictable, shocks elicited hypoalgesia but also the highest nociceptive responses, indicating that pain dissociates from nociception under stress. The fourth study examined the effects of moderate exercise-induced cardiovascular arousal on attention control and working memory. Two experiments revealed that working memory and attention are facilitated by moderate exercise. Finally, Study Five assessed Sternberg task performance across the cardiac cycle. Probes presented during systole produced the highest intercept but the shallowest slope. In sum, these studies (a) provide further support for the afferent feedback hypothesis; and (b) extend previous findings obtained with sensorimotor responses to high-order cognition.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year