Three groups of curarized rats were subjected to operant heart rate conditioning with use of a shock-avoidance procedure while cardiac output, mean arterial pressure, and total peripheral resistance were measured. Heart rate changes in the control group remained constant during the entire 90-min experimental period, while cardiac output decreased significantly. Those rats that were reinforced for increasing their heart rate had a small but statistically significant increase in heart rate, but cardiac output decreased to approximately the same extent as in the control group. The group reinforced for decreasing their heart rate demonstrated a large, significant decrease in heart rate and an even larger drop in cardiac output, which was significantly greater than that of either of the other two groups. Operant conditioning of a single facet of the cardiovascular system resulted in significantly larger changes in other cardiovascular parameters, which may have been partly masked by the physiological effects of d-tubocurarine. Therefore, only when these other measures of cardiovascular function are taken into consideration can interpretation of operant heart rate conditioning become meaningful.
- Copyright © 1975 by American Physiological Society