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Thread: Latent Inhibition

  1. #1

    Default Latent Inhibition

    Latent inhibition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Latent inhibition is a process by which exposure to a stimulus of little or no consequence prevents conditioned associations with that stimulus being formed. The ability to disregard or even inhibit formation of memory, by preventing associative learning of observed stimuli, is an automatic response and is thought to prevent information overload. Latent inhibition is observed in many species, and is believed to be an integral part of the observation/learning process, to allow the self to interact successfully in a social environment.[citation needed]

    Contrary to certain popular culture descriptions, low latent inhibition is not a mental disorder but an observed personality trait, and a description of how an individual absorbs and assimilates information or stimuli. It may or may not lead to mental disorder or creative geniusóthis is, like many other factors of life, a case of environment (positive stimuli e.g. education or negative stimuli e.g. abuse) and an individual's predisposition.
    On Low Latent Inhibition

    Most people are able to shut out the constant stream of incoming stimuli, but those with low latent inhibition cannot. It is hypothesized that a low level of latent inhibition can cause either psychosis, a high level of creativity[1] or both, which is usually dependent on the subject's intelligence.[2][3] Those of above average intelligence are thought to be capable of processing this stream effectively, an ability that greatly aids their creativity and ability to learn and which categorizes them as almost creative geniuses. Those with less than average intelligence, on the other hand, are less able to cope, and so as a result are more likely to suffer from mental illness.[4] Still, very many individuals who have a high level of intelligence and low latent inhibition suffer from mental differences.

    High levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine (or its agonists) in the brain are thought to lower latent inhibition.[5] Certain dysfunctions of the neurotransmitters glutamate, serotonin and acetylcholine have also been implicated,[6] and the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia is increasingly being seen as an alternative to the classic dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia.

    In recent years, low latent inhibition is being looked at as less of a mental disorder; in the past it was often confused with schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, bi-polar disorder, and even depression, and almost all cases of misdiagnoses have been known to lead to over-medicated individuals.[citation needed] In some cases, these individuals have had adverse reactions to the intended medicines.[citation needed]
    Biological Basis For Creativity Linked To Mental Illness

    Psychologists from the University of Toronto and Harvard University have identified one of the biological bases of creativity.

    The study in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says the brains of creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment. Other people's brains might shut out this same information through a process called "latent inhibition" - defined as an animal's unconscious capacity to ignore stimuli that experience has shown are irrelevant to its needs. Through psychological testing, the researchers showed that creative individuals are much more likely to have low levels of latent inhibition.

    "This means that creative individuals remain in contact with the extra information constantly streaming in from the environment," says co-author and U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson. "The normal person classifies an object, and then forgets about it, even though that object is much more complex and interesting than he or she thinks. The creative person, by contrast, is always open to new possibilities."

    Previously, scientists have associated failure to screen out stimuli with psychosis. However, Peterson and his co-researchers - lead author and psychology lecturer Shelley Carson of Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard PhD candidate Daniel Higgins - hypothesized that it might also contribute to original thinking, especially when combined with high IQ. They administered tests of latent inhibition to Harvard undergraduates. Those classified as eminent creative achievers - participants under age 21 who reported unusually high scores in a single area of creative achievement - were seven times more likely to have low latent inhibition scores.

    The authors hypothesize that latent inhibition may be positive when combined with high intelligence and good working memory - the capacity to think about many things at once - but negative otherwise. Peterson states: "If you are open to new information, new ideas, you better be able to intelligently and carefully edit and choose. If you have 50 ideas, only two or three are likely to be good. You have to be able to discriminate or you'll get swamped."

    "Scientists have wondered for a long time why madness and creativity seem linked," says Carson. "It appears likely that low levels of latent inhibition and exceptional flexibility in thought might predispose to mental illness under some conditions and to creative accomplishment under others."

    For example, during the early stages of diseases such as schizophrenia, which are often accompanied by feelings of deep insight, mystical knowledge and religious experience, chemical changes take place in which latent inhibition disappears.

    "We are very excited by the results of these studies," says Peterson. "It appears that we have not only identified one of the biological bases of creativity but have moved towards cracking an age-old mystery: the relationship between genius, madness and the doors of perception."

    This research was funded by the Stimson Fund and the Clark Fund at Harvard University and by the Connaught Fund at U of T.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array INTJMom's Avatar
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    Sep 2007


    What do you think about it?

  3. #3


    I think it is an interesting idea.

    I am not sure how well researchers have linked latent inhibition scores to actual chemical states in the brain, but the fact that there is some biology linking to psychological constructs is something that makes the theory more credible to me.

    If nothing else, they are searching for something physical.

    Also more details on the Harvard Study:
    Harvard Gazette: Creativity tied to mental illness (pdf)

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  4. #4
    Senior Member Array Simplexity's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    I remember back when I was first diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder I went on a rampage to try and learn everything I could on the topic and was especially interested when I stumbled upon this. I think for me personally I have extremely low latent inhibition I constantly am tuned in and aware of all the conversations that are going on around me, my own wandering mind, people i'm speaking to, and also to the main object I'm focusing on(teacher, hw, comp whatever).

    Before I was diagnosed this would absolutely bog me down and I felt like I could only tune into snippets of disparate information at a time and then theorize at a comparatively low level with little clarity. I think it was one of the reasons that I loved listening to music, watching Tv, or playing video games because I could sort of transpose that Latent Inhibition on to that object and be sufficiently interested. In terms of sitting down and doing homework, reading or studying that was an impossibility unless I was intensely interested in the subject because environmentally everything else was more interesting.

    I think as I've gotten accustomed to and acquainted with the effects and implications of my treatment I've been able to harness some of my strengths to a much more fruitful degree. I would always test well and could converse intelligently but in terms of output and showing it in a more academic/work environment I was helpless, my intelligence compensated for this inability to a great degree. I've found out now that I have a pretty good ability to sort of cross reference past experiences and thoughts to novel situations to a good degree. I think I'm a lot more able to sort of reconstruct and understand the intricacies of seemingly simple things.

    I remember recently I had a particularly long conversation about Information Technology, HMO's, Doctors, Pharmacies and patients all spurred on by a simple inquisition about how price scanners are structured in an IT aspect. I admittedly knew pretty much nil before I got into the conversation but somehow I was able to visualize to a surprisingly detailed degree the essence of my moms past job(Computer programmer for Blue Shield) and her complaints about the whole system, I must add her expertize was at hand in giving me such great insights.

    To sort of wrap up that long winded post I think that low levels coupled with moderate intelligence allows you to see situations from multiple aspects and with an inquisitive mindset allows you to sort of logically deduce and create a re-representation to a greater degree than those who have higher levels. I think the types of people that don't see as many barriers in things and have a sense that everything is somehow intertwined would be the ones classified as having low levels of latent inhibition and high levels of creativity.
    My cold, snide, intellectual life is just a veneer, behind which lies the plywood of loneliness.

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