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Inhibitory Phenomena and ‘Habituation’ at the Neuronal Level

Nature volume 192, pages 12941295 (30 December 1961) | Download Citation



IN behavioural habituation, according to Thorpe1, the animal “learns not to respond to stimuli which tend to be without significance in the life of the animal”. It does so by a mechanism which determines a “relatively permanent waning of a response as a result of repeated stimulation”. Different authors conceive that the phenomenon of habituation may be correlated with changes in the central nervous system: (a) development of inhibitory connexions, in a way analogous to the extinction of a conditioned reflex2; (b) development of inhibitory influences acting on different synaptic relays of the sensory pathways, which, by producing ‘afferent neuronal habituation’, would lead to behavioural habituation3.

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  1. 1.

    , Learning and Instinct in Animals (Harv. Univ. Press, Mass., 1956).

  2. 2.

    , Conditioned Reflexes and Neuron Organization (Camb. Univ. Press, 1948).

  3. 3.

    , Acta Neurol. Latinoamer., 1, 256 (1955).

  4. 4.

    , Arch. Ital. Biol., 96, 78 (1958).

  5. 5.

    , in Roberts, E., Inhibition in the Nervous System and γ-Aminobutyric Acid (Pergamon Press, New York, 1960).

  6. 6.

    , Nuovo Cimento, Supp. 2, 13, 532 (1959).

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    Present address: Department of Physiology, Universidad de La Habana, Cuba.


  1. Institute of Physiology, University of Chile, Santiago de Chile.

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