Electromyographic and affective responses of episodic tension-type headache patients and headache-free controls during stressful task performance

John P. Hatch, Patricia J. Moore, Steve Borcherding, Margaret Cyr-Provost, Nashaat N. Boutros, Ermias Seleshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Thirty-four subjects meeting diagnostic criteria for episodic tension-type headache and 42 who rarely experienced headaches participated in two laboratory sessions in which cephalic electromyographic (EMG) activity, electrodermal activity, heart rate, and finger temperature were recorded. Subjects performed relaxation, choice reaction time, psychomotor tracking, voluntary muscle contraction, and cold pressor tasks. Headache subjects showed significantly greater EMG activity than controls during baseline and stressful task performance. During relaxation, both groups reduced EMG activity from baseline levels, and there was no significant difference in EMG level between the groups during relaxation. Headache subjects reported higher levels of subjective anxiety, depression, anger, and stress than controls. Headache subjects also reported higher levels of pain than controls, and headache subjects reported greater pain during stressful task performance relative to baseline and recovery periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-112
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1992



  • electromyography
  • life stress
  • negative affect
  • pain
  • tension-type headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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