Relaxation and Muscular Tension: A Biobehavioristic Explanation

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Relaxation and muscular tension are commonly ascribed to cohere to metaphorical principles of stimulus–response (S-R) that presumably are isomorphic with neurally based reflexive mechanisms that are not modifiable by learning. However, purely S-R principles have been progressively replaced in modern learning theory with expectancy or discrepancy models of learning that do not recognize separate neural processes that subserve operant (R-S) and respondent (S-R) conditioning. An alternative explanation for the relaxation response and muscular tension is provided that is derived from principles of modern learning theory. It is demonstrated theoretically and through practical procedure that muscular relaxation is a homeostatic resting state and muscular tension is a function of simple biopsychologic processes of incentive motivation or learning.

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