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By Dr. Andrew Steptoe, Dr. Heinz Rüddel, Dr. Hermann Neus (auth.), Dr. Andrew Steptoe, Dr. Heinz Rüddel, Dr. Hermann Neus (eds.)

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Extra info for Clinical and Methodological Issues in Cardiovascular Psychophysiology

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If, for example, one compares a rest condi tion with a Stroop test, the observed difference in cardiovascular activation may result from task-induced effects, but also from a change in respiratory pattern (the subjects are required to mention the colour of a word). Similarly, using reaction time tasks, the rest and task conditions differ in the amount of motor responses. It is for that reason that we decided to keep the amount of motor activity constant: same rate of signal presentation and rate of responding across reference and main tasks.

The power of a test is directly related to a, the level of significance testing: an increase in the size of a will result in an increase in power. However, there are also other ways on increasing the power of an experiment: Decrease in the uncontrolled variance: Power is increased if we are able to el iminate uncontrolled sources of var iance. An increase in the size of the error variance reduces the size of the F ratio and lessens our chances of rejecting the null hypothesis. There are three major sources of error variance: random variations in the actual treatments, the presence of unanalysed control factors and individual differences.

These phasic changes in heart rate occur wi thin a period of 7,400 msec (the time between two successive sentences) and probably reflect the moment-to-moment use of cognitive resources. The sentence has to be encoded and an internal representation has to be formed (deceleration, acceleration) ~ then the subject starts to prepare for the picture (deceleration), forms an internal representation of the picture and compares it wi th the internal representation of the sentence (acceleration). These relatively fast changes are believed to be controlled by the vagus, since Obr ist and colleagues (1974) have shown that these phasic heart rate changes are relatively unaffected by sympathetic blocking agents.

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