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August 1955

Effect of Drugs on Galvanic Skin Response LevelA Study in Sympathectomized Human Subjects

AMA Arch Derm. 1955;72(2):144-152. doi:10.1001/archderm.1955.03730320046007

In 1888 Féré1 described an electrical response of the skin called the psychogalvanic reflex or galvanic skin response (GSR). This is most frequently measured as a change in resistance to a direct current of electricity. Subsequent studies with this phenomenon have resulted in a variety of claims about its site of action and its practical value.

Three theories have been proposed to account for the observed changes. One theory relates the response to muscular activity, another to vasomotor changes, and a third to the sweat glands. At the present time most of the evidence indicates that the GSR is dependent on the sweat glands, more specifically, on some presecretory change in these glands.2 This relationship to sweat glands stimulated our interest in the possibility of adapting the GSR to study the effects of drugs which directly or indirectly affect sweat gland function.

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