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November 1971

Self-Regulation of the Sensory Environment: Conceptual Model and Potential Clinical Applications

Author Affiliations

Madison, Wis
From Mendota State Hospital, Madison, Wis. Dr. Ludwig is currently at the University of Kentucky.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1971;25(5):413-418. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1971.01750170029006

This study pertains to an exploration of man's relationship to his sensory environment. The paradigm employed includes exposing subjects to three 2 1/2 hour sessions of (1) sensory deprivation, (2) normal stimulation, and (3) sensory overload and providing them within limits with an opportunity to regulate the amount and kind of auditory or visual input. This research paradigm permits a way of obtaining "sensory profiles" on subjects. So far, results indicate that mild-to-profound altered states of consciousness or "psychedelic" effects can be produced by sensory overload in about 40% of normal subjects. Also, subjects tend to experience time as "speeded up" in sensory overload and "slowed down" in sensory deprivation as compared to the normal control condition.