Understanding the Difference: Habituation vs Sensitization in Behavioral Responses

What is the main difference between habituation and sensitization?

Habituation leads to decreased or no response, sensitization leads to increased response

The main difference between habituation and sensitization is that habituation occurs when an organism becomes less responsive to a repeated stimulus, whereas sensitization occurs when an organism becomes more responsive to a repeated or new stimulus.

Habituation is the process of decreasing responsiveness an organism has to a repeated stimulus. As the organism becomes more familiar with the stimulus, its response decreases. This is a form of adaptation that allows an organism to ignore irrelevant stimuli or conserve energy when faced with an unimportant or benign stimulus. For example, a person may become used to the noise of a busy street and stop noticing it after a while.

Sensitization, on the other hand, refers to an increase in responsiveness to a stimulus that may have been encountered either for the first time or for repeated exposure. This occurs as a form of defense mechanism for an organism to react more readily to potentially harmful or dangerous stimuli. An individual who has a fear of spiders may become increasingly sensitized to the presence of spiders over time, becoming more fearful and reactive with each encounter.

In summary, habituation is the process of decreasing responsiveness to a repeated stimulus, whereas sensitization is the process of increasing responsiveness to a repeated or new stimulus.

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