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Last updated on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.



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Sensitization is a process in cognitive science where repeated exposure to a stimulus results in an increased response or sensitivity to that stimulus over time. This heightened reactivity can lead to changes in behavior, perception, or other cognitive processes.

The Concept of Sensitization in Cognitive Science

Sensitization is a fundamental concept in cognitive science that refers to a process by which repeated exposure to a stimulus results in an increased response to that stimulus over time. This heightened responsiveness can occur at various levels within the cognitive system, impacting perception, attention, memory, and decision-making.

Key Aspects of Sensitization

1. Neural Plasticity: Sensitization is often associated with changes in neural circuits and the strengthening of synaptic connections. This neural plasticity plays a crucial role in shaping how our brains process and respond to stimuli.

2. Behavioral Effects: Sensitization can lead to changes in behavior, such as increased sensitivity to certain environmental cues or a heightened vigilance towards specific stimuli.

3. Sensory Processing: In the context of sensory systems, sensitization can influence how sensory information is perceived and interpreted by the brain. For example, individuals may become more attuned to subtle variations in sound or touch after repeated exposure.

Applications in Decision Sciences

1. Risk Perception: Sensitization can impact how individuals perceive and assess risks. Repeated exposure to certain risks may lead to an overestimation of their likelihood or severity, influencing decision-making processes.

2. Choice Behavior: Sensitization can also affect how individuals make choices. Over time, individuals may develop a preference for certain options based on repeated exposure, even if those options may not be objectively better.

3. Cognitive Biases: Sensitization can contribute to the development of cognitive biases by shaping how information is processed and weighted in decision-making contexts. These biases can influence judgments and choices in subtle ways.

By understanding the concept of sensitization and its implications for cognitive processes, researchers aim to gain insights into how our brains adapt to environmental inputs and how these adaptations influence our behavior and decision-making strategies.


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