Attention, Arousal and the Orientation Reaction by R. Lynn

By R. Lynn

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2: vascular reactions in the hand. ) 28 ATTENTION, AROUSAL AND ORIENTATION REACTION Duration of the stimulus. A very brief stimulus either produces no reaction or the reaction is quickly habituated. Very long stimuli also habituate quickly, leaving stimuli of intermediate duration as the most difficult to habituate (Sokolov, 1963a, p. 119). Difficult discriminations. These delay habituation in cases where the subject has to make a positive reaction to one stimulus and a negative reaction to another and the stimuli are difficult to discriminate.

To account for the habituation of the generalized orientation reaction before the localized orientation reaction, he assumes that the cortex blocks the non-specific input into the brain stem reticular formation first and into the thalamic reticular formation later. In support of this possibility Sokolov cites the evidence of Benoit (1958), who stimulated the reticular formation electrically and observed no habituation of arousal. The experiments of Olds (1957) on selfstimulation of the arousal system in rats exemplifies the same point, since self-stimulation is not subject to habituation.

However, secondary habituation takes longer than primary habituation and will generally take something of the order of twice as many or even dozens of stimulations before habituation is complete. During this stage the alerting of the subject, such as by giving him a task, results in the disappearance of the secondary orientation reaction (Sokolov, 1963a, pp. 121-122). 6. The subject eventually goes to sleep. There has been some c 26 ATTENTION, AROUSAL AND ORIENTATION REACTION dispute about whether the repetition of a stimulus gives rise to sleep or whether the subject might have gone to sleep just as easily without the monotonous stimulation.

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