|M.Sc Student||Arad Maya|
|Subject||Generalized and Sympathetic Measures of Arousal Represent|
Different Cognitive Strategies
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Professor Eldad Yechiam|
|Full Thesis text|
The present study investigated the possibility of tradeoff between generalized autonomic arousal and sympathetic arousal. In Experiments 1 and 2 the participants Heart Rate (HR) and Peripheral Arterial Tone (PAT) were examined during the performance of two variants of a Go/No-Go task. Pat is considered to be a relatively pure measure of sympathetic arousal while HR is a commonly used general index influenced by both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems activation. In both studies the measures tended to be consistent within each participant. However, as predicted by the notion of Individual Response Specificity, across individuals there was a negative correlation between the two measures. According to this approach individual tend to have a typical autonomic response that is more elevated than other responses across diverse conditions. Moreover, the two measures exhibited different temporal behavior with PAT remaining relatively stable throughout the task, while Heart Rate showed a gradual decrease. An analysis of a dataset of trainees practicing a 3-D puzzle showed the same pattern of associations between PAT and Heart Rate.
Additionally, each measure had a different correlation with the performance indices, suggesting that the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) modulate different cognitive strategies. Specifically, in Experiment 2, the PAT index reflected a cautious and conservative strategy (reflected by more misses and less false alarms) while Heart Rae was associated with lower overall sensitivity (reflected by less hits and more false alarms).
These results challenge the view that measures of the autonomic nervous system are indicators of the same psychological construct.