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Sensation Seeking And N100 Psychology Essay

This research seeks to examine the relationship between event-related potentials, specifically the N100 aspect, and the personality construct of sensation seeking. Nine students signed up for a university or college level introductory psychology course received credit for taking part in this study. With the use of an electroencephalogram, voltage information in the brain was recorded as the participant listened to auditory stimuli including a aim for, standard, and arbitrary build. After separating individuals based on high and low experience seeking results and comparing that with an event-related potential developed from the EEG information it was shown that those high in sensation seeking got higher amplitude and a longer latency at N100 than low feeling seekers. This demonstrates one of the components of discomfort seeking, boredom susceptibility, may experienced an effect because of the repetitive display of stimuli which led to lower amplitude at the N100.

Sensation seeking and N100

This study looks for to examine the partnership between levels of discomfort seeking and event-related potentials (ERP), specifically the N100 component. Using ERPs to equate to personality constructs is effective because the stimulus can be time-locked to the brain activity that has been recorded and analyzed to observe how the individual is responding whether on a mindful or unconscious level.

Sensation seeking, as explained by Marvin Zuckerman (2007), is "a characteristic identified by the seeking of assorted, novel, sophisticated, and intense sensations and encounters, and the willingness to consider physical, communal, legal, and financial risks with regard to such experience". Sensation seekers are drawn to high risk athletics such as sky diving and rock climbing, they experiment with a number of drugs, and are sexually promiscuous for the reason that they have a numerous range of sexual partners. High experience seekers will examine situations as low risk vs. low that will see an increased risk; even still highs will anticipate more positive arousal whereas lows assume anxiety and stress. Experience seeking correlates with dominance and adventurousness, but not with neuroticism or anxiety. High experience seekers tend to be associated with 'non-conformist teams' and are attracted to abstract stimuli. A couple of four proportions of feeling seeking that are used in Zuckerman's discomfort seeking range that help determine whether one is a higher or low feeling seeker. The first part is thrill and excursion seeking (TAS). If someone is saturated in TAS they will exert a have to be involved with activities that provide them unusual sensations and encounters such as moderately risky sports. This is where activities like mountain climbing and sky diving enter into play. The second aspect is experience seeking (ES) which explains the fascination to non-conformist communities. A person scoring high in experience seeking will look for feelings and new encounters through your brain and the senses and through the nonconforming lifestyle. Activities incorporate enjoying abstract skill and traveling to new and various places. Disinhibition (DIS) reflects the participation in wild gatherings, susceptibility to drugs, and promiscuity. Disinhibition by themselves can be normal, however when paired with aggression it's rather a signal of psychopathy. The very last subscale is boredom susceptibility (BS) identifies the aversion sensation seekers have to monotonous duties and folks they find to be boring. For example, Zuckerman's stimulus deprivation process discovered that high sensations seekers, when in an area for any length of time with no aesthetic or auditory stimuli got restless and tired (Zuckerman, 2007).

Zuckerman's theory for the natural basis of feeling seeking started along with his monoamine oxidase (MAO) theory. He hypothesized that high feeling seekers have low MAO compared with low discomfort seekers having high degrees of MAO. Monoamine oxidase is a neurotransmitter regulator. MAO regulates the amount of monoamines which include norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. High levels of MAO result in reduced awareness to a stimulus and conversely low levels increase sensitivity. This is because if there are high levels of MAO there are lower degrees of monoamines and vice versa. In conclusion, high feeling seekers have low degrees of MAO which result in an increase of awareness to stimulus. The negative relationship between MAO levels and experience seeking is also indicative of the relationship between sensation seeking and the levels of catecholamine. High levels of MAO are found in the limbic system. The limbic system is involved in pleasure and sensitivity to prize. Zuckerman worked well under the assumption that this sensitivity in high discomfort seekers produces alertness and fascination with book stimuli associated with strong orienting replies. He then merged his theory of MAO with another theory that connects the limbic system activity with levels of catecholamine and experience seeking. It explains that dopamine regulates the readiness to explore and plan novel stimuli in the environment and norepinephrine regulates the level of sensitivity to, or expectation of positive encouragement (i. e. ) norepinephrine and dopamine jointly are two the different parts of the reward system. The nucleus accumbens (NA) is area of the limbic (pay back) system and hypothesized to be the major middle for sensation seeking. This may be because there are higher degrees of dopamine found in the NA. Therefore, this theory relates the traits of sensations seeking to low degrees of MAO, resulting in high levels of catecholamine (dopamine and norepinephrine) in the limbic system (reward center), which ultimately raises readiness to explore and deal with novel stimuli in the surroundings and sensitivity to stimulus and positive reinforcement (Zuckerman, 1983).

An event-related potential (ERP) is a wave form developed by averaging epochs from data accumulated using an electroencephalogram (EEG) that is a time-locked representation of the voltage activity in the mind reacting to the stimulus provided (Rugg & Coles, 1995). ERPs allow examination of stimulus on the neurological level. Such as this study, it can be used with personality constructs or mental disorders to study their results on the reaction to stimulus in the surroundings. The amplitude of different components in the waveform are indicative of the strength of the response and the latency symbolizes the time it requires for the reaction to happen. The EEG itself pays to, but extremely difficult to utilize its data because it's such an over-all collection of information. ERPs act as a funnel for important information that fine tunes the data accumulated with the EEG that lead to data that can pin point neurological effect whether mindful or unconscious. This is another reason ERPs are useful, they allow experts to accumulate data that the participant may well not even be familiar with (Rugg & Coles, 1995).

N100 (N1) is a poor spike at roughly 100 ms after a stimulus has been offered. N1 amplitude appears to be associated with recognition of an stimulus. The starting point and offset of the stimulus will elicit a N1 while the repetition of the stimulus will show a decrease in N1 amplitude. N1 will not make clear any content information about the stimulus presented, it'll only express when a stimulus is in the environment. Inside the confines of the analysis using the oddball paradigm with auditory stimuli, the N1 might have been increased in amplitude by creating a larger time gap between your presentations of stimulus. Because the N1 is elicited at the starting point of stimulus, by increasing the time between auditory tones the recognition of a fresh stimulus is bigger. Another way to manipulate the amplitude of the N1 is to do it again the stimulus in random time intervals for silence span (Atienza et al. , 2001). N1 amplitude can also be increased by increasing the level or rate of recurrence of the constant stimuli (Naatanen, 1990).

Sensation seekers have a more powerful curiosity or willingness to investigate book stimuli which means they have stronger orienting response (OR). Orienting response occurs when offered a moderately extreme or novel stimulus. Although this study is focusing on standard stimuli it can be considered novel. Novel, in this respect, does not suggest the difficulty of the stimuli; it means novel to the participant's environment. Feeling seeking has been positively correlated with orienting respond to a novel stimulus. Corresponding to Naatanen (1990), N1 has high amplitude at the onset and offset of stimulus. It seems to stand for the participant's first reaction to the starting point of auditory stimulus which can also described as an orienting response. Research conducted by Atienza et al. (2001), discovered that the different parts of the N1 were involved in the initiation of your orienting response. Working on the assumption that N1 is indicative associated with an orienting response which high feeling seekers have more powerful OR it is hypothesized that those saturated in feeling seeking will have a shorter latency and higher amplitude at N1 than low discomfort seekers.



Nine undergraduate college or university students were given course credit to be involved in the analysis. The male and feminine individuals were recruited from introductory mindset courses. These were necessary to complete five personality questionnaires. The Eysenck personality questionnaire-revised, firm and affiliation questionnaire, BISBAS, ten item personality inventory, and the sensation seeking size were used to determine the participant's personality features. From the full total sensation seeking rating participants were put into two categories: scoring high on feeling seeking (4) and low on discomfort seeking (5).


The discomfort seeking scale is situated upon the four subscales of the personality build: buzz and excitement seeking, experience seeking, disinhibition, and boredom susceptibility. The scores for these four subscales are added along to give the full total sensation seeking credit score. An electroencephalogram (EEG) was used to track record voltage activity in the mind while showing the participant with auditory stimuli. It is hooked up to the amplifier that jobs a variation in voltage over time. The electrodes were put according to the 10/20 system. This technique describes that electrodes are arranged based on their distance from both main axis: anterior-posterior and the coronal (Rugg & Coles, 1995). The electrodes Fz, Cz, Pz, linked mastoids, Fcz (earth), EOG, and Fp2 were used. The associated mastoids were used for sources and the EOG and Fp2 were used along to get a bipolar recording. The auditory tones including: a typical high frequency firmness, target low occurrence tone, and a random sound were presented using an oddball paradigm. The participant was also outfitted with headphones and a remote control button.


The participant was necessary to sit within an isolated room with earphones on and pay attention to a sequence of auditory shades including concentrate on stimuli, standard stimuli, and a rare sound. During the display of the auditory stimuli the participant was asked to react to the target build by pressing the remote button also to essentially disregard the other does sound.

The EEG accumulates frequencies that are not considered functional data because of this study. Using the computer program Neuroscan blinks and muscle reactions were taken off the data accumulated. The EEG is then separated into segments or epochs to stand for every time the auditory tone was presented. The base brand is manipulated so all recordings were at about 0 amplitude. The last step was to average all of the waveforms to produce a graph representing the event-related potential at each electrode.


On average, low experience seekers had higher amplitude at N100 and shorter latency than high sensation seekers. Those credit scoring high on discomfort seeking had an extended latency and lower amplitude than low experience seekers.

Table 1: Average amplitude and latency at each electrode for high and low experience seekers

ERP. png

Fig. 1: Event-related potential for high and low experience seekers in a reaction to standard stimuli at the Cz electrode


It was thought that those who rating high on discomfort seeking could have higher amplitude and a shorter latency at the N100. The results contradicted what was hypothesized for the reason that high sensation seekers actually experienced lower amplitude and a longer latency at N100. Through the results, it is speculated that the repetition of stimuli enjoyed on one of the components of discomfort seeking: boredom susceptibility. To recap, the N100 is indicative of the onset of stimuli in the surroundings and does not have any content information. In the perspective of the N100 element and neglecting the variations in the auditory tones provided, the high experience seeker was presented with stimuli repetitively for a long period of your time. Zuckerman (2007) stated that people high in discomfort seeking dislike monotonous jobs which would describe why they might have lower amplitude at N100 than low sensation seekers. When looking at the N100 together, Nataanen (1990) described that with repetition of the stimulus there's a drop in N1 amplitude. The display of auditory tones to participants was repetitive and would have resulted in lower N100 amplitude for both high and low discomfort seekers. It was also shown, in research conducted by Budd et al. (1998), that stimulus shown too closely jointly will bring about a smaller N1 since there is insufficient time for neuronal restoration.

There also may be considered a chance, due to lack of statistical analysis, that there is actually no factor between your amplitude at the N1 for high and low sensation seekers. From the research done by Carol et al. (1982) on the correlation between discomfort seeking and medication selection predicated on the optimal degree of arousal theory, it can be speculated that there would be no significant difference between high and lows at the N100. The perfect degree of arousal theory would postulate that high discomfort seekers, because their ideal degree of arousal is greater than low feeling seekers, would choose stimulants over depressive drugs to heighten their level of arousal. It would also be expected that low sensation seekers would be more drawn to depressants due to its dampening effect on arousal levels. Their results confirmed that high and low experience seekers both loved the stimulants more. Looking at these results it may be figured it is more realistic that there is no factor between high and low discomfort seekers at N1 (Carol et al. , 1982).

The sample size was quite small with a complete of 9 participants. With a larger test the results would become more applicable to the overall population. The analysis used male and feminine participants, but there is no examination of whether females or males have scored higher on experience seeking or what that intended in conditions of the results. This made it so the results and the results could not be compared on the basis of gender. This range of individuals was limited to 17-19. Also, all of the participants were from introductory psychology courses from the same college or university.

In future research it might be interesting, using ERP, to compare gender and the ratings on the feeling seeking scale and how that would have an impact on the results. From previous research it was thought that levels of testosterone correlated to levels of experience seeking. That higher testosterone, more prevalently in males, experienced a positive romantic relationship with high degrees of feeling seeking (Zuckerman, 2007). In mention of the ends in this study and it's possible origin from boredom susceptibility, new research could look at the different the different parts of sensation seeking instead of the total rating and how that would impact ERP studies. In the research from Zuckerman's magazines, it was found that the demographic factors that most affected degrees of sensation seeking were gender and age, which supports the idea of future research being finished with those two aspects (Zuckerman, 2007).

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