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: 7.37). 03/2010; 6(1):38-47. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq001
Source: PubMed


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.

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Available from: Xiaomeng Xu
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    • "We should now look towards other outcomes of interest, such as intellectual capabilities and cognitive biases, which are related to mental wellbeing. Previous research has shown that high SPS individuals perform better at cognitive tasks (Gerstenberg, 2012; Jagiellowicz et al., 2011) and respond better to interventions (Pleuss & Boniwell, 2015), therefore we might assume that these individuals learn at a faster rate. If this is the case then they should show some advantage in terms of responding to interventions, such as therapy or cognitive bias modification (CBM). "
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    ABSTRACT: There are few studies testing the differential susceptibility hypothesis (DSH: hypothesizing that some individuals are more responsive to both positive and negative experiences) with adult personality traits. The current study examined the DSH by investigating the moderating effect of sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS) on childhood experiences and life satisfaction. A total of 185 adults completed measures of SPS, positive/negative childhood experiences and life satisfaction. SPS did moderate the association between childhood experiences and life satisfaction. Simple slopes analysis compared those reporting high and low SPS (+/−1 SD) and revealed that the difference was observed only for those who reported negative childhood experiences; with the high SPS group reporting lower life satisfaction. There was no difference observed in those reporting positive childhood experiences, which supported a diathesis-stress model rather than the DSH.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Personality and Individual Differences
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    • "e varied the target ( partner vs . stranger ) and emotional display ( positive , negative , and neutral ) of our stimuli , and repli - cated findings after 1 year for the subset of the original sample that was rescanned . Also , results in the PMA rep - licated findings from a previous fMRI study of SPS mea - suring responses to landscape images ( Jagiellowicz et al . 2011 ) . The cingulate area found in this study was very similar to that reported in a meta - analysis of 40 empathy studies ( Fan et al . 2011 ) . The cingulate is important for the rec - ognition of others ' actions , in both humans and other primates ( e . g . , Rizzolatti et al . 1996 ) , and in conjunction with the insula ( another area"
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    ABSTRACT: Background Theory and research suggest that sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), found in roughly 20% of humans and over 100 other species, is a trait associated with greater sensitivity and responsiveness to the environment and to social stimuli. Self-report studies have shown that high-SPS individuals are strongly affected by others' moods, but no previous study has examined neural systems engaged in response to others' emotions.Methods This study examined the neural correlates of SPS (measured by the standard short-form Highly Sensitive Person [HSP] scale) among 18 participants (10 females) while viewing photos of their romantic partners and of strangers displaying positive, negative, or neutral facial expressions. One year apart, 13 of the 18 participants were scanned twice.ResultsAcross all conditions, HSP scores were associated with increased brain activation of regions involved in attention and action planning (in the cingulate and premotor area [PMA]). For happy and sad photo conditions, SPS was associated with activation of brain regions involved in awareness, integration of sensory information, empathy, and action planning (e.g., cingulate, insula, inferior frontal gyrus [IFG], middle temporal gyrus [MTG], and PMA).Conclusions As predicted, for partner images and for happy facial photos, HSP scores were associated with stronger activation of brain regions involved in awareness, empathy, and self-other processing. These results provide evidence that awareness and responsiveness are fundamental features of SPS, and show how the brain may mediate these traits.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Brain and Behavior
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    • "The scale has adequate discriminant, convergent, and overall construct validity, and Cronbach's alphas have been obtained in the range of 0.81– 0.84, demonstrating adequate reliability (Jagiellowicz et al., 2010). An alpha of 0.77 was achieved in the present study. "
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    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.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Frontiers in Psychology
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