Honors Projects


Sensory gating is a proposed important physiological process of inhibiting neuronal responses of repetitious stimuli in the central nervous system to allocate more cognitive resources to additional salient information. Sensory gating is currently being studied to better understand psychiatric illnesses, especially those characterized by emotional changes and the inability to concentrate such as schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety disorder, and Parkinson’s. Anxiety is a strong feeling of nervousness that occurs in all individuals at varying degrees and is associated with detrimental health effects as well as hindering concentration. Numerous brain regions are associated with anxiety levels such as the anterior limbic system, paralimbic system, hippocamus, and prefrontal cortex. These systems have also activity related to sensory gating. Data was obtained from 10 Caucasian, undergraduate females. We used a set of inventories to determine participants' level of anxiety as well as measuring their auditory gating through the click-pair paradigm, with 500ms between clicks and 10 seconds between pairs of clicks. We hypothesize that increasing levels of anxiety will be correlated with impaired gating, indicated by increased ratios. To determine this, participants engaged in the cold-pressor task to induce stress. Baselines were established before the cold-pressor tasks and measured after its completion. Stress levels were shown to increase after the application of the cold-pressor task, but gating ratios were demonstrated to be unaltered. Future studies are proposed further explore the relationship between anxiety and sensory gating.



First Advisor

Dr. Howard Cromwell

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Dr. William O'Brien

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Summer 2014