Effects of baroreceptor stimulation on performance of the Sternberg short-term memory task: a cardiac cycle time study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Activation of arterial baroreceptors can affect cortical activity. Cardiac cycle time studies have established that natural variations in baroreceptor activation are associated with changes in basic sensorimotor function whereas few have investigated more complex cognitive function. Aiming to improve our understanding of this phenomenon, this study examined performance on the Sternberg memory task as a function of the phase of the cardiac cycle. In each trial, participants were shown either two or six digits followed by a probe digit that either had or had not been presented previously and were required to press one of two response buttons to indicate a match and mismatch, respectively. Response latency per additional digit was greater for stimuli presented late compared to early in the cardiac cycle whereas the zero intercept was greatest at the start of the cardiac cycle and reduced as the cycle progressed. These findings provide evidence that natural baroreceptor stimulation can affect complex cognitive processes, such as serial-comparison in short-term memory, as well as basic sensorimotor processes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-266
JournalBiological Psychology
Early online date13 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Arterial baroreceptors, Cardiac cycle, Memory, Sternberg task