Are efficient learners of verbal stimuli also efficient and precise learners of visuospatial stimuli?

People differ in how quickly they learn information and how long they remember it, and these two variables are correlated such that people who learn more quickly tend to retain more of the newly learned information. Zerr and colleagues (2018) termed …

A critical review of ultra-short-term heart rate variability norms research

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the fluctuation in time between successive heartbeats and is defined by interbeat intervals. Researchers have shown that short-term (~5-min) and long-term (≥ 24-h) HRV measurements are associated with adaptability, health, mobilization, and use of limited regulatory resources, and performance. Long-term HRV recordings predict health outcomes heart attack, stroke, and all-cause mortality. Despite the prognostic value of long-term HRV assessment, it has not been broadly integrated into mainstream medical care or personal health monitoring. Although short-term HRV measurement does not require ambulatory monitoring and the cost of long-term assessment, it is underutilized in medical care. Among the diverse reasons for the slow adoption of short-term HRV measurement is its prohibitive time cost (~5 min). Researchers have addressed this issue by investigating the criterion validity of ultra-short-term (UST) HRV measurements of less than 5-min duration compared with short-term recordings. The criterion validity of a method indicates that a novel measurement procedure produces comparable results to a currently validated measurement tool. We evaluated 28 studies that reported UST HRV features with a minimum of 20 participants, of these 17 did not investigate criterion validity and 8 primarily used correlational and/or group difference criteria. The correlational and group difference criteria were insufficient because they did not control for measurement bias. Only three studies used a limits of agreement (LOA) criterion that specified a priori an acceptable difference between novel and validated values in absolute units. Whereas the selection of rigorous criterion validity methods is essential, researchers also need to address such issues as acceptable measurement bias and control of artifacts. UST measurements are proxies of proxies. They seek to replace short-term values which, in turn, attempt to estimate long-term metrics. Further adoption of UST HRV measurements requires compelling evidence that these metrics can forecast real-world health or performance outcomes. Furthermore, a single false heartbeat can dramatically alter HRV metrics. UST measurement solutions must automatically edit artifactual interbeat interval values otherwise HRV measurements will be invalid. These are the formidable challenges that must be addressed before HRV monitoring can be accepted for widespread use in medicine and personal health care.

Individual differences in learning efficiency

Most research on long-term memory uses an experimental approach whereby participants are assigned to different conditions, and condition means are the measures of interest. This approach has demonstrated repeatedly that conditions that slow the rate of learning tend to improve later retention. A neglected question is whether aggregate findings at the level of the group (i.e., slower learning tends to improve retention) translate to the level of individual people. We identify a discrepancy whereby—across people—slower learning tends to coincide with poorer memory. The positive relation between learning rate (speed of learning) and retention (amount remembered after a delay) across people is referred to as *learning efficiency*. A more efficient learner can acquire information faster and remember more of it over time. We discuss potential characteristics of efficient learners and consider future directions for research.

Learning efficiency: Identifying individual differences in learning rate and retention in healthy adults

People differ in how quickly they learn information and how long they remember it, yet individual differences in learning abilities within healthy adults have been relatively neglected. Across 2 studies (combined *N* = 372) we found that quicker learners were also more durable learners (i.e., exhibited better retention across a delay), despite studying the material for less time.

Contextual control of chained instrumental behaviors

Recent studies suggest a significant role for context in controlling the acquisition and extinction of simple operant responding. The present experiments examined the contextual control of a heterogeneous behavior chain. Rats first learned a chain in …

A healthy heart is not a metronome: an integrative review of the heart’s anatomy and heart rate variability

Heart rate variability (HRV), the change in the time intervals between adjacent heartbeats, is an emergent property of interdependent regulatory systems that operate on different time scales to adapt to challenges and achieve optimal performance. This article briefly reviews neural regulation of the heart, and its basic anatomy, the cardiac cycle, and the sinoatrial and atrioventricular pacemakers. The cardiovascular regulation center in the medulla integrates sensory information and input from higher brain centers, and afferent cardiovascular system inputs to adjust heart rate and blood pressure via sympathetic and parasympathetic efferent pathways. This article reviews sympathetic and parasympathetic influences on the heart, and examines the interpretation of HRV and the association between reduced HRV, risk of disease and mortality, and the loss of regulatory capacity. This article also discusses the intrinsic cardiac nervous system and the heart-brain connection, through which afferent information can influence activity in the subcortical and frontocortical areas, and motor cortex. It also considers new perspectives on the putative underlying physiological mechanisms and properties of the ultra-low-frequency (ULF), very-low-frequency (VLF), low-frequency (LF), and high-frequency (HF) bands. Additionally, it reviews the most common time and frequency domain measurements as well as standardized data collection protocols. In its final section, this article integrates Porges’ polyvagal theory, Thayer and colleagues’ neurovisceral integration model, Lehrer et al.’s resonance frequency model, and the Institute of HeartMath’s coherence model. The authors conclude that a coherent heart is not a metronome because its rhythms are characterized by both complexity and stability over longer time scales. Future research should expand understanding of how the heart and its intrinsic nervous system influence the brain.