The Physiological Effects of Anticipating Spicy Food
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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This study was designed to measure changes in heart rate, respirations, and electrodermal activity (EDA) due to anticipation of eating a range of peppers on the Scoville Heat Scale (starting at 30,000-50,000 scoville units and working up to 1,000,000 heat units). Our hypothesis stated that each measured variable would increase in anticipation to eating spicy food--in this case peppers. For all 30 participants, baseline heart rate, respiration, and skin conductance measurements were taken for one minute using electrocardiography (ECG), electrodermal activity (EDA), and a respiratory belt, respectively. A positive control was measured followed by a recovery period to return to baseline measurements. During the experimental portion, participants were informed that there was a range of peppers to try and they were to eat the spiciest one they felt they could tolerate. Time was allotted from when one experimenter left the room to go fetch these ‘peppers’, to when they returned to inform participants they would not actually need to consume any peppers (note: no physical peppers were used by the experimenters). This allowed time for possible changes in physiological measurements to develop. Following the experiment, participants completed a survey rating their current hunger level and spicy food tolerance. Analysis of our results show significant differences between the average resting and average experimental values for heart rate, respiratory rate, and skin conductance. Additionally, our post-experimental survey also shows an interesting correlation between self-reported spice tolerance and the physiological changes observed.
ElectroDermal Activity (EDA)
Sympathetic Nervous System
An article that appeared in JASS, issue 2018