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Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Nov;97(11):2791-7.

Enhanced preattentive central nervous system reactivity in irritable bowel syndrome.

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CURE Digestive Diseases Research Center, Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles 90073, USA.



Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional disorder characterized by enhanced perceptual sensitivity and hypervigilance toward afferent signals from the viscera. We hypothesize that the increased responsiveness of IBS patients is a generalized phenomenon applying to stimuli other than visceral and attempt to demonstrate increased responsiveness to sounds as measured by the P1 scalp potential.


Event-related potentials were recorded from IBS patients and control subjects in an auditory task requiring detection of rare pitch targets in a designated ear. Visual words served as targets in an additional block.


Compared to control subjects, IBS patients displayed a robust increase in the amplitude of the P1 scalp potential elicited by both attended and unattended sounds.


Enhanced P1 indicates preattentive central nervous system dishabituation in response to repeated sounds. A generalized preattentive increase in central nervous system reactivity may be a feature that IBS shares with several anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur in these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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