Chapter

Psychophysiological Recordings

Robert M. Stern, William J. Ray and Karen S. Quigley

in Psychophysiological Recording

Second edition

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780195113594
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199846962 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195113594.003.0004
Psychophysiological Recordings

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Somatic responses such as heart rate and muscle potentials abound. Electrical activity can be recorded from the surface of the skin at any moment. Background electrical activity is always present and spontaneous changes in activity occasionally appear, even when it seems that an individual is relaxing or asleep. This makes the task of recording and correctly interpreting a subject's evoked response to a specific stimulus or situation a challenge. Most psychophysiological recordings can be analyzed in terms of three types of activity: spontaneous, tonic (background), and phasic (evoked responses). Tonic activity is often referred to as the background level or resting level of activity of a particular physiological measure, while phasic activity is a discrete response to a specific stimulus — an evoked response. What is referred to as spontaneous activity is in reality a change in physiological activity that occurs in the absence of any known stimuli.

Keywords: spontaneous activity; tonic activity; phasic activity; electrical activity; skin; spontaneous changes; psychophysiological recordings

Chapter.  1839 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychology

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