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Latent inhibition is a technical term used in Classical conditioning. A stimulus that has not had any significance in the past takes longer to acquire meaning (as a signal) than a new stimulus. It is "a measure of reduced learning about a stimulus to which there has been prior exposure without any consequence."[1] This tendency to disregard or even inhibit formation of memory, by preventing associative learning of observed stimuli, is an unconscious response[2] and is assumed to prevent sensory overload. Latent inhibition is observed in many species, and is believed to be an integral part of learning, enabling an organism to interact successfully in an environment (e.g., social).[citation needed]

Low latent inhibition

Most people are able to ignore the constant stream of incoming stimuli, but this capability is reduced in those with low latent inhibition. It is hypothesized that a low level of latent inhibition can cause either psychosis or a high level of creative achievement[3] or both, which is usually dependent on the subject's intelligence.[4][2] Those of above average intelligence are thought to be capable of processing this stream effectively, enabling their creativity. Those with less than average intelligence, on the other hand, are less able to cope, and so as a result are more likely to suffer from mental illness.[5]

High levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine (or its agonists) in the brain have been shown to decrease latent inhibition.[6] Certain dysfunctions of the neurotransmitters glutamate, serotonin and acetylcholine have also been implicated.[7]

Low latent inhibition is not a mental disorder but an observed personality trait, and a description of how an individual absorbs and assimilates data or stimuli. Furthermore, it does not necessarily lead to mental disorder or creative achievement—this is, like many other factors of life, a case of environmental and predispositional influences, whether these be positive (e.g., education) or negative (e.g., abuse) in nature.

See also


  1. McCartan D, Bell R, Green JF, Campbell C, Trimble K, Pickering A, King DJ (2001). "The differential effects of chlorpromazine and haloperidol on latent inhibition in healthy volunteers". Journal of Psychopharmacology 15 (2): 96–104. doi:10.1177/026988110101500211. PMID 11448094.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Creative people more open to stimuli from environment
  3. Decreased Latent Inhibition Is Associated With Increased Creative Achievement in High-Functioning Individuals;Archive link
  4. FuturePundit: Low Latent Inhibition Plus High Intelligence Leads To High Creativity?
  5. Lubow RE, Gewirtz JC (1995). "Latent inhibition in humans: data, theory, and implications for schizophrenia.". Psychological bulletin 117 (1): 87–103. PMID 7870865.
  6. Swerdlow NR, Stephany N, Wasserman LC, Talledo J, Sharp R, Auerbach PP (2003). "Dopamine agonists disrupt visual latent inhibition in normal males using a within-subject paradigm.". Psychopharmacology 169 (3-4): 314–20. doi:10.1007/s00213-002-1325-6. PMID 12610717.
  7. Bills C, Schachtman T, Serfozo P, Spooren W, Gasparini F, Simonyi A (2005). "Effects of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 on latent inhibition in conditioned taste aversion". Behavioural Brain Research 157: 71–8. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2004.06.011. PMID 15617773.

External links

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