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Types of sensitizationEdit
For example, electrical or chemical stimulation of the rat hippocampus causes strengthening of synaptic signals, a process known as long-term potentiation or LTP (Collingridge, Isaac & Wang, 2005). LTP is thought to underlie memory and learning in the human brain.
A different type of sensitization is that of kindling, where repeated stimulation of hippocampal or amygdaloid neurons eventually leads to seizures. Thus, kindling has been suggested as a model for temporal lobe epilepsy (Morimoto, Fahnestock & Racine, 2004).
A third type is central sensitization, where nociceptive neurons in the dorsal horns of the spinal cord become sensitized by peripheral tissue damage or inflammation (Ji et al., 2003). These various types indicate that sensitization may underlie both pathological and adaptive functions in the organism, but whether they also share the same physiological and molecular properties is not yet established (McEarchern & Shaw, 1999).
Sensitization is a term referred to in psychology as how your body reacts to a drug.
Sensitization has been implied as a causal or maintaining mechanism in a wide range of apparently unrelated pathologies including substance abuse and dependence, allergies, asthma, and some medically unexplained syndromes such as fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivity. Sensitization has also been suggested in relation to psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic anxiety and mood disorders (Rosen & Schulkin, 1998; Antelman, 1988; Post, 1992).
Eric Kandel was one of the first to describe sensitization based on his experiments with the seasnail Aplysia in the 1960's and 1970's. Kandel and his colleagues gave Aplysia electric shocks to the head, which caused it to retract its siphon and gills (Kandel, 2004). Eventually, very little stimulation was needed to provoke the response, indicating that Aplysia had been sensitized. When tested several days after the initial trials, this response was still manifest. In 2000, Eric Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research in neuronal learning processes.
Edit: Kandel used Aplysia to measure habituation in the gill-withdrawal reflex, NOT sensitization.
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- Shum, F.W.F., et. al. (2007). Alteration of cingulate long-term plasticity and behavioral sensitization to inflammation by environmental enrichment. Learning & Memory, 14, 304 - 312. Abstract
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