Studies of autonomic response patterns: Rationale and methods

M. A. Wenger, B. T. Engel, T. L. Clemens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This report briefly summarizes the results of eighteen years of research on the measurement of autonomic functions in human subjects during rest, and presents a discussion of hypotheses and methodology for the study of autonomic response patterns. Most of the report is devoted to a discussion of instrumentation and methods of measurement employed in current investigations. The following variables are measured: electrical resistance of palmar skin; respiration rate; finger, face, and axillary temperatures; heart rate, potentials and rhythms; changes in finger and leg blood volume; systolic and diastolic blood pressures; stroke volume of the heart; pupillary diameter; stomach and lower bowel motility; salivary output; and selected muscle action potentials. Most responses are amplified and recorded continuously and simultaneously by means of chopper type Offner amplifiers. Pupillary diameter and systolic and diastolic blood pressure are time sampled; the former by means of a Bolex motion picture camera, the latter by means of a Gilson automatic blood pressure recorder. Stomach motility is recorded continuously by means of a new method—a magnetometer which remotely detects the movements of a small ingested magnet. Lower bowel motility is recorded by a bipolar electrode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-221
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1957
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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