1983 Volume 24 Issue 3 Pages 315-323
The purpose of this study was to investigate multivariable cardiovascular responses to a non-mathematical mental task. Fiftytwo subjects, 8 to 69 years of age, were monitored at rest and while attempting to solve a Raven's matrix test without prodding or pressure from the experimentors. Adults (≥18 years) had higher blood pressures (BP) and longer pre-ejection periods (PEP) at rest than did the children. Women had higher resting heart rates (HR) than men. The task induced significant increases in systolic and diastolic BP and HR in adults and children, with the adults exhibiting larger BP responses. During the stressful stimulus significant decreases in left ventricular ejection time occurred in men and women, and significant increases in forearm blood flow occurred in men. The stability in PEP during the stressful period when both BP and HR were increased is evidence of enhanced contractility brought on by the stress. In general, men and women responded similarly. Thus, even a mild, non-mathematical stress of short duration elicits the multiple cardiovascular responses, including increases in BP, HR, muscle blood flow, and contractility, which are observed with more threatening tasks.