The production and generalization of large-magnitude heart rate deceleration by contingently faded biofeedback

Mark E. McKinney, David Geller, Robert J. Gatchel, Gail Barber, Joan Bothner, M. Elaine Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Eight subjects were taught to decrease their heart rates via biofeedback training. Four of these received contingently faded, beat-by-beat analogue feedback and contingent reinforcement each time their performance met a specified and adjusting criterion. The other four received continuous, beat-by-beat analogue feedback, but not the contingent reinforcement. Subjects in the two groups were yoked to ensure equal densities of reinforcement. Subjects in the first group were asked to decrease heart rates 15% from baseline and were then trained using only 75%, 50% and 25% of beat-by-beat feedback. It was hypothesized that the immediate reinforcement of appropriate behavior and the contingent fading (following mastery ) of feedback would aid in the generalization of the response. Following completion of all criterion steps or 10 training sessions, whichever came first, all subjects were tested with no feedback and no contingent reinforcement. The group receiving contingently faded feedback training showed a significantly greater heart rate decrease in the training sessions and also the test session. These results were interpreted as indicating that biofeedback can be conceptualized as an operant conditioning paradigm, and that the use of operant techniques may help subjects produce clinically significant changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-416
Number of pages10
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1980

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