The trait of sensory processing sensitivity and neural responses to changes in visual scenes.

Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, USA.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 5.04). 03/2010; 6(1):38-47. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This exploratory study examined the extent to which individual differences in sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), a temperament/personality trait characterized by social, emotional and physical sensitivity, are associated with neural response in visual areas in response to subtle changes in visual scenes. Sixteen participants completed the Highly Sensitive Person questionnaire, a standard measure of SPS. Subsequently, they were tested on a change detection task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). SPS was associated with significantly greater activation in brain areas involved in high-order visual processing (i.e. right claustrum, left occipitotemporal, bilateral temporal and medial and posterior parietal regions) as well as in the right cerebellum, when detecting minor (vs major) changes in stimuli. These findings remained strong and significant after controlling for neuroticism and introversion, traits that are often correlated with SPS. These results provide the first evidence of neural differences associated with SPS, the first direct support for the sensory aspect of this trait that has been studied primarily for its social and affective implications, and preliminary evidence for heightened sensory processing in individuals high in SPS.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study focused on a possible temperament-by-culture interaction. Specifically, it explored whether a basic temperament/personality trait (sensory processing sensitivity; SPS), perhaps having a genetic component, might moderate a previously established cultural difference in neural responses when making context-dependent vs context-independent judgments of simple visual stimuli. SPS has been hypothesized to underlie what has been called inhibitedness or reactivity in infants, introversion in adults, and reactivity or responsivness in diverse animal species. Some biologists view the trait as one of two innate strategies-observing carefully before acting vs being first to act. Thus the central characteristic of SPS is hypothesized to be a deep processing of information. Here, 10 European-Americans and 10 East Asians underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing simple visuospatial tasks emphasizing judgments that were either context independent (typically easier for Americans) or context dependent (typically easier for Asians). As reported elsewhere, each group exhibited greater activation for the culturally non-preferred task in frontal and parietal regions associated with greater effort in attention and working memory. However, further analyses, reported here for the first time, provided preliminary support for moderation by SPS. Consistent with the careful-processing theory, high-SPS individuals showed little cultural difference; low-SPS, strong culture differences.
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 04/2010; 5(2-3):219-26. · 5.04 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Since the publication of Sensory-processing sensitivity and its relation to introversion and emotionality by Aron and Aron (1997), several studies have investigated the measurement quality of the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS), which is meant to measure sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS) and its relation to other self-report scales such as the behavioral inhibition and behavioral activation system scales, the Big Five scales, and various other health-related self-report scales. However, only a few reported studies have ever assessed the relation between the HSPS and a behavioral test. The present study (N = 89 psychology students) further fills this gap by investigating how SPS influences individual performance on a visual detection task. In addition, self-reported stress was assessed before and after the visual detection task. Results showed that SPS was positively related to performance on a visual detection task. Nevertheless, the better performance was accompanied by higher reported stress after taking the test.
    Personality and Individual Differences 05/2012; 53:496-500. · 1.88 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The primary aim of this study was to examine the role of cue utilization in the initial acquisition of psycho-motor skills. Two experiments were undertaken, the first of which examined the relationship between cue utilization typologies and levels of accuracy following four simulated, power-off landing trials in a light aircraft simulator. The results indicated that higher levels of cue utilization were associated with a greater level of landing accuracy following training exposure. In the second study, participants' levels of cue utilization were assessed prior to two 15 min periods during which they practiced take-offs and landings using a simulated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Consistent with Study 1, the outcomes of Study 2 revealed a statistically significant relationship among levels of cue utilization and the number of trials to criterion on the take-off task, and the proportion of successful trials during both take-off and landing. In combination, the results suggest that the capacity for the acquisition and the subsequent utilization of cues is an important predictor of skill acquisition, particularly during the initial stages of the process. The implications for theory and applied practice are discussed.
    Frontiers in Psychology 01/2014; 5:541. · 2.80 Impact Factor

Full-text (3 Sources)

Available from
Jun 2, 2014