Heart Rate Regulation as Skill Learning: Strength‐Endurance versus Cardiac Reaction Time

Gary E. Schwartz, Larry D. Young, Jim Volger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Fleishman's (1966) model of complex motor skill learning is applied to viscera) self‐regulation. Five different underlying abilities are illustrated: strength, endurance, steadiness, control precision, and reaction time. In the experiment, 16 subjects were pre and post tested with instructions alone for degree of cardiac Strength and Endurance control (SE) (maximally increase or decrease heart rate and sustain it for a minute) and degree of cardiac Reaction Time control (RT) (produce a small, 3 sec burst of increased or decreased heart rate as quickly as possible to the onset of a trial). All subjects received heart rate biofeedback during training, but half practiced SE while the other practiced RT. It was predicted that cardiac learning would be specific to the skill practiced during biofeedback, with little transfer to the other task. The data indicated that SE training led to improved SE control (30%) accompanied by a slight decrement in RT control (‐5%). Conversely, RT training led to markedly improved RT control (120%)H accompanied by a small decrement in SE control(18%). The value of conceptualizing complex visceral skills as reflecting learned patterns of underlying neurophysiological abilities is illustrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1976


  • Abilities
  • Endurance
  • Heart rate biofeedback
  • Patterning
  • Reaction time
  • Skill learning
  • Strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Heart Rate Regulation as Skill Learning: Strength‐Endurance versus Cardiac Reaction Time'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this