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October 1972

Effect of Sensory Overload on Psychological State: Changes in Social Alienation-Personal Disorganization and Cognitive-Intellectual Impairment

Author Affiliations

Irvine, Calif
From the Communications and Measurements Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, Calif.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;27(4):451-457. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750280019004

Ten male and ten female subjects were shown a 43-minute, highintensity sound color movie contrived to evoke a psychedelic experience. Five-minute tape-recorded speech samples and Rod and Frame tests were obtained from each subject before and immediately after exposure to the sound movie.

Content analysis scores of the speech samples showed a significant increase in social alienation-personal disorganization scores (P <.025, one-tailed test) and cognitive-intellectual impairment scores (P<.005, one-tailed test) after exposure to the sensory overload experience. The degree of field dependence, derived from the Rod and Frame test, significantly predicted which subjects would have the largest increases in cognitive-intellectual impairment scores (r =.48, P<.025, one-tailed test).