Starting slow: the effects of response-switching frequency on patterns of cardiovascular reactivity

John Moriarty, Michael Hogan, Ian Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Research findings suggest that switching between competing response sets can be resource demanding. The current study focused on concurrent health-relevant physiological effects of task switching by assessing cardiovascular response at varying levels of switch frequency. The participants performed a response-switching task at three different levels of response set switching frequency (low, medium and high) while measurements of blood pressure and heart rate were taken. One group was exposed to response-switching frequency conditions in the order low → medium → high, while the other group was exposed to the same task conditions in the reverse order (i.e. high → medium → low). The results showed that the participants in the low → medium → high switch frequency group recovered faster from initially heightened systolic blood pressure when compared with participants in the high → medium → low group. It is concluded that the results point to a physiological "carry over" effect associated with beginning a task at rapid response switching frequency levels, and suggest the importance of habituation to task demands as a means of offsetting potentially unhealthy levels of reactivity. Implications for modern work environments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-18
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Young Adult


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