Evocation and habituation of autonomic and event-related potential responses in a nonsignal environment

R. F. Simons, B. Rockstroh, T. Elbert, E. Fiorito, W. Lutzenberger, N. Birbaumer

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Two experiments were conducted which induced orienting and habituation by presenting a novel stimulus and repeating its presentation at long and irregular intertrial intervals. At the end of the habituation series, a pitch or intensity change was introduced to elicit response recovery cor dishabituate the response to the subsequent initial stimulus. Skin conductance, alpha blocking, and to a lesser extent heart rate reflected these manipulations. P300 responded as expected to the initial stimulus presentation and habituated to steady state responding very quickly, but it did not prove sensitive to the change in stimulus characteristics. The O-Wave, on the other hand, did not behave in a manner consistent with its proposed status as a component of the generalized OR as it was not augmented by novel stimuli and showed no evidence of amplitude reduction with stimulus repetition. Taken together, these data suggest that while traditional notions of orienting are still applicable to some measures (e.g., SC, HR and alpha blocking), the complexity of ERPs would seem to require a decomposition of the OR into more basic processes before relationships between specific ERP components and aspects of the OR can be elucidated in any detail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-59
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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