Spectral characteristics of skin temperature indicate peripheral stress-response

Vladimir Shusterman, Ofer Barnea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-resolution measurement of skin temperature in 11 normal subjects revealed low-amplitude temperature oscillations (40 × 10-3°C). The temperature signal measured on two hands during baseline, stress, and recovery periods, was filtered to separate the low-amplitude oscillations from the temperature signal. Spectral analysis of the filtered signal showed that most of the energy of the signal is in a range of 0.01 to 0.03 Hz. Frequency shifts and amplitude changes of the largest component were observed in response to mental stress. In subjects with high baseline values of either of these two variables, a decrease was observed in response to stress. An opposite response was observed in subjects with significantly lower baseline levels. Stress-related changes in peak frequency ranged from -25% to +18.2%; changes in peak amplitude ranged from -74.6% to +280%. Changes in the mean temperature were limited to 2.4%. Thus, the oscillatory component showed higher sensitivity to psychological stress than mean temperature. The spectrum of this component was compared to the spectrum of the blood pressure waves measured noninvasively. Both exhibited similar dynamics of energy, peak amplitude, and peak frequency in response to psychological stress. This similarity suggests that the oscillatory temperature component reflects stress-related changes of peripheral vasomotor activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-367
Number of pages11
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • spectral analysis
  • stress-response
  • sympathetic tone
  • temperature oscillations
  • vasomotor activity


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