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Pavlov J Biol Sci. 1990 Jul-Sep;25(3):142-50.

The orienting response, and future directions of its development.

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Department of Psychophysiology, Lomonosov University, Moscow, U.S.S.R.


The orienting response (OR) is a specific behavioral act directed towards extraction of information from the environment. Head and eye movements represent only the tip of the iceberg of internal responses, which includes vascular modifications, EEG changes, and event-related potentials. Two mechanisms of the OR have to be differentiated: voluntary and involuntary. In the event-related potential, such a differentiation is expressed in mismatch negativity (involuntary effect) and processing negativity (voluntary effect). Single unit studies have shown that hippocampal neurones are simulating specific features of the OR as a response to novelty. Repeated presentation of stimuli results in a selective habituation of novelty detectors in hippocampus and of the OR. The trace of a standard stimulus formed at the level of hippocampal neurones matches the features of the standard stimulus and can be called a "neuronal model of the stimulus." The OR is triggered by mismatch between the test stimulus and the elaborated neuronal model, and is activated by verbal instruction, by reinforcement during the initial stage of conditioned reflex elaboration, and by differentiation of signal and non-signal stimuli. A promising new area of practical application of the OR lies in the evaluation of a corridor of optimal functional state for efficient computer-based learning. Registration of the OR and defensive responses can be used for an objective evaluation of the functional state of the student, or, in a wider sense, of the industrial operator. New avenues of OR research are opened by recent techniques that isolate single-trial event related potentials, and their correlation with autonomic and behavioral manifestations of the OR.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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