Sensitivity to mechanical stimuli and the role of general sensory and perceptual processes in heartbeat detection

K Knapp, C Ring, J Brener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Sensitivity to heartbeat sensations is commonly assessed using tasks that require individuals to judge the simultaneity of heartbeats and tones. In two experiments, we investigated the suitability of this paradigm for examining cardioception. In the first experiment, participants judged the simultaneity of near-threshold vibrations and suprathreshold tones. Precision in judging vibration-tone simultaneity was directly related to the detectability of the mechanical stimuli, thereby supporting use of the simultaneity paradigm to assess heartbeat detection. In the second experiment, we examined the influences of sensitivity to mechanical stimuli and the ability to make intermodality simultaneity judgments on the precision of heartbeat detection. We measured participants' vibrotactile thresholds, precision in judging light-tone simultaneity, and precision in judging heartbeat-tone simultaneity. The ability to judge the simultaneity of lights and tones accounted for 24.3% of the variance in precision of heartbeat detection, and mechanical sensitivity accounted for a further 8.5%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-73
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Male
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Task Performance and Analysis


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