Motor preparation aspects of cardiovascular reactivity to psychological challenge.

Journal Article

Neural control of the circulation has evolved in such a way that behavioral responses to psychological stress may be accompanied by a dramatic activation of the cardiovascular system. This study was designed to address the hypothesis that such instances of cardiovascular mobilization reflect a functional motor preparation response. Twenty-four healthy young men participated in reaction time (RT) tasks which involved responding by squeezing a handgrip dynamometer. Motor preparation demands were manipulated by varying the temporal predictability of response requirements as well as the physical effort involved in responding, while controlling for other factors previously established to influence cardiovascular reactivity to psychologically challenging tasks. Physiological response measurements included heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen consumption. Increases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure during the RT tasks showed a general pattern which was consistent with the predictions of the motor preparation hypothesis, with the greatest elevations occurring in association with low temporal predictability and high physical effort. The possibility is discussed that factors such as incentives and elements of uncertainty may influence cardiovascular reactivity by accentuating behavioral arousal, of which motor preparation may be an inextricable component.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sherwood, A; Allen, MT; Murrell, D; Obrist, PA

Published Date

  • November 1988

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 263 - 272

PubMed ID

  • 3225203

Pubmed Central ID

  • 3225203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0167-8760

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/0167-8760(88)90013-x


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands