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Phasic heart rate changes during word translation of different difficulties

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The heart rate (HR) can be modulated by diverse mental activities ranging from stimulus anticipation to higher order cognitive information processing. In the present study we report on HR changes during word translation and examine how the HR is influenced by the difficulty of the translation task. Twelve students of translation and interpreting were presented English high- and low-frequency words as well as familiar and unfamiliar technical terms that had to be translated into German. Analyses revealed that words of higher translation difficulty were accompanied by a more pronounced HR deceleration than words that were easier to translate. We additionally show that anticipatory HR deceleration and HR changes induced by motor preparation and activity due to typing the translation do not depend on task difficulty. These results provide first evidence of a link between task difficulty in language translation and event-related HR changes.

Keywords: Bradycardia; Cardiac deceleration; Heart rate; Stimulus anticipation; Word translation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: BCI-Lab, Institute of Knowledge Discovery, Graz University of Technology, Krenngasse 37, A-8010 Graz, Austria 2: Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, Universitätsplatz 2/III, A-8010 Graz, Austria

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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