Habituation revisited: An updated and revised description of the behavioral characteristics of habituation

Catharine H. Rankin, Thomas Abrams, Robert J. Barry, Seema Bhatnagar, David F. Clayton, John Colombo, Gianluca Coppola, Mark A. Geyer, David L. Glanzman, Stephen Marsland, Frances K. McSweeney, Donald A. Wilson, Chun Fang Wu, Richard F. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The most commonly cited descriptions of the behavioral characteristics of habituation come from two papers published almost 40 years ago [Groves, P. M., & Thompson, R. F. (1970). Habituation: A dual-process theory. Psychological Review, 77, 419-450; Thompson, R. F., & Spencer, W. A. (1966). Habituation: A model phenomenon for the study of neuronal substrates of behavior. Psychological Review, 73, 16-43]. In August 2007, the authors of this review, who study habituation in a wide range of species and paradigms, met to discuss their work on habituation and to revisit and refine the characteristics of habituation. This review offers a re-evaluation of the characteristics of habituation in light of these discussions. We made substantial changes to only a few of the characteristics, usually to add new information and expand upon the description rather than to substantially alter the original point. One additional characteristic, relating to long-term habituation, was added. This article thus provides a modern summary of the characteristics defining habituation, and can serve as a convenient primer for those whose research involves stimulus repetition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-138
Number of pages4
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009


  • Behavior
  • Habituation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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