RZ Interval as an Impedance Cardiography Indicator of Effort-Related Cardiac Sympathetic Activity

Paul J Silvia, Ashley N McHone, Zuzana Mironovová, Kari M Eddington, Kelly L Harper, Sarah H Sperry, Thomas R Kwapil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on effort and motivation commonly assesses how the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system affects the cardiovascular system. The cardiac pre-ejection period (PEP), assessed via impedance cardiography, is a common outcome, but assessing PEP requires identifying subtle points on cardiac waveforms. The present research examined the psychometric value of the RZ interval (RZ), which has recently been proposed as an indicator of sympathetic activity, for effort research. Also known as the initial systolic time interval (ISTI), RZ is the time (in ms) between the ECG R peak and the dZ/dt Z peak. Unlike PEP, RZ involves salient waveform points that are easily and reliably identified. Data from two experiments evaluated the suitability of RZ for effort paradigms and compared it to a popular automated PEP method. In Studies 1 (n = 89) and 2 (n = 71), participants completed a standard appetitive task in which each correct response earned a small amount of cash. As expected, incentives significantly affected PEP and RZ in both experiments. PEP and RZ were highly correlated (all rs ≥ 0.89), and RZ consistently yielded a larger effect size than PEP. In Study 3, a quantitative synthesis of the experiments indicated that the effect size of RZ's response to incentives (Hedges's g = 0.432 [0.310, 0.554]) was roughly 15% larger than PEP's effect size (g = 0.376 [0.256, 0.496]). RZ thus appears promising for future research on sympathetic aspects of effort-related cardiac activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Psychophysiology Biofeedback
Issue number1
Early online dateNov 10 2020
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Effort
  • Impedance cardiography
  • Initial systolic time interval
  • Motivation
  • Pre-ejection period
  • RZ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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