Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 757 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.
phenomenon for the physiologist.  We have to inquire, for instance, what effects sounds which stimulate the auditory organs and cause the animal to become alert, watchful, yet make it remain rigidly motionless, have on the primary organic rhythms of the organism, such as the heart-beat, respiration, and peristalsis.  It is also directly in the line of our investigation to inquire how they affect reflex movements, or the reaction time for any other stimulus—­what happens to the reaction time for an electrical stimulus, for example, if a loud noise precede or accompany the electrical stimulus.

For the purpose of determining the range of hearing in the frog, I was driven to study the influence of sounds upon respiration.  Although the animals did not make any detectable movement, not even of an eyelid, in response to noises, it seemed not improbable that if the sounds acted as auditory stimuli at all, they would in some degree modify the form or rate of the respiratory movement.

C. Influence of Sounds on Respiration.[16]

   [16] For full discussion of the normal respiratory movements of
   the frog see Martin, Journal of Physiology, Vol. 1., 1878,
   pp. 131-170.

The method of recording the respiration was the direct transference of the movement of the throat by means of a pivoted lever, one end of which rested against the throat, while the other served as a marker on a revolving drum carrying smoked paper.  The frog was put into a small box, visual stimuli were, so far as possible, excluded and the lever was adjusted carefully; a record was then taken for at least half a minute to determine the normal rate of respiration in the absence of the stimulus whose effect it was the chief purpose of the experiment to discover.  Then, as soon as everything was running smoothly, the auditory stimulus was given.  The following records indicate the effects of a few stimuli upon the rate of breathing: 

1.  Stimulus, 100 V. tuning fork.

Number of respirations for 10 cm. before stimulus 18.0, 17.0; number of respirations for 10 cm. after stimulus 19.0, 17.3.

The records indicate very little change, and contradict one another.  For the same stimulus the experiment was tried of taking the normal respiration record for a complete revolution of the drum, and then at once taking the record for the same length of time (about two minutes) with the tuning-fork vibrating close to the frog.  The following result is typical and proves that the sound has little effect.

Number of respirations in a revolution before stimulus:  First rev. 88; second rev. 88.  Number of respirations in a revolution during stimulus:  First rev. 87; second rev. 88.

Concerning the influence of tuning-fork stimuli more will be said later in a consideration of the effects of auditory stimuli upon reactions to visual stimuli.

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