Thesis Title

Changes In Heart Rate: An Index Of Levels Of Visual Processing And Discrimination Learning In Adults

Date of Graduation

Fall 2000

Degree

Master of Science in Psychology

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

D. Wayne Mitchell

Subject Categories

Psychology

Abstract

Heart Rate (HR) has been shown to be sensitive to individual differences in cognitive processing. The purpose of the present study was to develop an autonomic index of cognitive processing (for later use with infants) during a visual discrimination task. Thirty-eight adults' HR was monitored during a Visual Snychronous Reinforcement Discrimination Task (VSRDT). The task was comprised of two Baseline, ten Learning, two Maintenance, and two Relearning trials. It was hypothesized that HR would be sensitive to four levels of cognitive processing during the VSRDT and that HR would correlate with intelligence (WAIS-R subtests). Hypotheses were partially confirmed. Specifically, HR was sensitive to three levels of cognitive processing and was correlated with the Picture Arrangement sub-test across trials. It is suggested that increased task difficulty in future research might lead to the appearance of the hypothesized fourth level of processing, as indexed by HR.

Copyright

© Daniel Wilkinson

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