Document Type


Date of Award

Summer 8-31-1999

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)


Biomedical Engineering Committee

First Advisor

Stanley S. Reisman

Second Advisor

Peter Engler

Third Advisor

Richard J. Servatius


The use of the classically conditioned eyeblink response, a form of associative learning, is a growing method of experimentation in modem science. This type of associative learning, has many features that make it useful for applications in the study of specific neurological functions. The goal of this project was to design and implement a software system for the automated control and on-line evaluation of a classical conditioning experiment for use with human subjects. A program was developed in the LabVIEW programming environment by National Instruments. Basic hardware components produce acoustic signals, deliver airpuffs, and sense and condition physiological responses. Safety features are utilized to eliminate hazards to test subjects. The apparatus is optimized for performance to reduce the cost of human experimentation. To verify the accuracy, reliability, and safety of the apparatus a series of tests was performed.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients and healthy controls were tested in a sensory reactivity protocol, using white noise at three intensities, and a delay protocol for the evaluation of associative learning through the measurement of the classically conditioned eyeblink response. Though only a pilot study, the design of the experimental system has the reliability and sensitivity for the measurement of this type of experimentation.



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