Resonances in the cardiovascular system caused by rhythmical muscle tension


  • This research was supported by grants and contracts from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (HHSN275201000003C, R01 AA015248, and K02 AA00325) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (P20 DA017552). The authors thank students Alex Vaschillo and Anton Manyak for their assistance in testing participants and post processing the physiological data. Preliminary results were presented at the Annual 2009 Meetings of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

Address reprint requests to: Address correspondence to: Evgeny Vaschillo, Ph.D., Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers—The State University of New Jersey, 607 Allison Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854. E-mail:


Paced 0.1 Hz breathing causes high-amplitude HR oscillation, triggering resonance in the cardiovascular system (CVS). This oscillation is considered to be a primary therapeutic factor in HRV biofeedback treatments. This study examined whether rhythmical skeletal muscle tension (RSMT) can also cause 0.1 Hz resonance in the CVS, and compared oscillatory reactivity in CVS functions caused by RSMT and paced breathing (PB). Sixteen young healthy participants completed five tasks: baseline, three RSMT tasks at frequencies of 0.05, 0.1, and 0.2 Hz, and a 0.1 Hz PB task. ECG, respiration, finger pulse, and skin conductance data were collected. Results showed that 0.1 Hz RSMT as well as 0.1 Hz PB triggered resonance in the CVS and caused equivalent oscillations in all measured CVS functions, although in women, RSMT compared to PB caused lower HR oscillation. Clinical application of 0.1 Hz RSMT is discussed.