The role of biofeedback in the operant modification of human heart rate

John P. Hatch, Robert J. Gatchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The recent literature on the role played by biofeedback in the modification of human heart rate is reviewed. Emphasis is placed on research pertinent to the issue of whether biofeedback is more productively conceived as a reinforcer of an operant response or as a source of information enabling the development of a voluntary motor skill. Criticisms of the operant paradigm are answered, and limitations of the motor skills analogy are discussed. It is concluded that the operant conditioning paradigm best accounts for most available data on the role of biofeedback in heart rate control, and that it is superior to the motor skills model because it is more parsimonious and makes fewer untestable assumptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-167
Number of pages29
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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