Effects of data limitations on heartbeat detection in the method of constant stimuli

J Brener, C Ring, X Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In the method of constant stimuli applied to measuring heartbeat detection, subjects judge the simultaneity of heartbeats and exteroceptive comparison stimuli presented at various intervals after the R-wave (0, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 ms). Using versions of this procedure, investigators have found that between 20% (Yates, Jones, Marie, & Hogben, 1985) and 54% (Brener, Liu, & Ring, 1993) of subjects can detect heartbeat sensations. Whereas Yates et al. used a single comparison stimulus on each trial and Brener et al. used 10, the present study examined whether this disparity in heartbeat detection performance could be attributed to the number of comparison stimuli presented on each trial. In each of 360 trials, 30 subjects judged the simultaneity of heartbeat sensations and tones following 1, 5, or 10 comparison stimulus presentations. Significantly fewer subjects met the criterion for heartbeat detection with 1 tone presentation (13%) than with either 5 (43%) or 10 (47%) tone presentations. It is concluded that a single stimulus presentation imposes data limitations that result in underestimation of the accuracy of heartbeat detection. The presentation of at least 5 stimuli in each trial alleviates this limitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-12
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1994


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male


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