Social Interaction and Sensory Intake Rejection Cardiovascular Correlates of Attention in Young Adults and School-Aged Boys

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Two experiments were conducted to examine the development of cardiovascular correlates of attention in normal children and young adults. In the first experiment, heart rate, blood pressure, and peripheral blood flow were measured, and peripheral vascular resistance was calculated while normal college-aged students (17 to 23 years) were engaged in various psychological tasks. Changes in the cardiovascular indices appeared to reflect the degree of personal meaningfulness and the direction of attention (inward vs. outward). In the second experiment, school-aged children (ages 9 to 12 years) were monitored while engaged in interviews, watching television, and performing a simple reaction-time task. The neutral interview and the reaction-time task elicited external direction of attention and sensory intake, associated with increased peripheral resistance and decreased peripheral blood flow. The children and the adults differed in their responses to the more personal interview and the reaction-time task. These differences in response may reflect developmental processes.

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