• Heart rate;
  • Cardiac interbeat interval;
  • Sensory-motor compatibility;
  • Motor inhibition;
  • Anticipatory cardiac deceleration


Two experiments tested the hypothesis that response selection processes alter the timing of the shift between anticipatory cardiac deceleration and acceleratory recovery. Experiment 1 compared changes in cardiac interbeat interval induced by the manipulation of sensory-motor compatibility in a four choice reaction time task. A direct spatial mapping between a linear array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) was compared to randomly assigned, indirect (non-compatible) mappings. Experiment 2 repeated these two tasks and added a two choice condition with direct spatial mapping, a task frequently employed to examine heart rate deceleration. Fifteen college aged males participated in Experiment 1; 18 college aged males participated in Experiment 2. In both experiments anticipatory cardiac deceleration either reached a plateau or shifted to acceleration by the interbeat interval in which the stimulus occurred. In contrast to previous reports, a secondary deceleration, rather than cardiac acceleration, often followed the stimulus. The secondary deceleration was greater with non-compatible mapping, slow response speeds, and short intertrial intervals. The findings suggested that the motoric inhibition required during response selection induces a phasic cardiac deceleration.