Sensory gating: a translational effort from basic to clinical science

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2008 Apr;39(2):69-72. doi: 10.1177/155005940803900209.


Sensory gating (SG) is a prevalent physiological process important for information filtering in complex systems. SG is evaluated by presenting repetitious stimuli and measuring the degree of neural inhibition that occurs. SG has been found to be impaired in several psychiatric disorders. Recent animal and human research has made great progress in the study of SG, and in this review we provide an overview of recent research on SG using different methods. Animal research has uncovered findings that suggest (1) SG is displayed by single neurons and can be similar to SG observed from scalp recordings in humans, (2) SG is found in numerous brain structures located in sensory, motor and limbic subregions, (3) SG can be significantly influenced by state changes of the organism, and (4) SG has a diverse pharmacological profile accented by a strong influence from nicotine receptor activation. Human research has addressed similar issues using deep electrode recordings of brain structures. These experiments have revealed that (1) SG can be found in cortical regions surrounding hippocampus, (2) the order of neural processing places hippocampal involvement during a later stage of sensory processing than originally thought, and (3) multiple subtypes of gating exist that could be dependent on different brain circuits and more or less influenced by alterations in organismal state. Animal and human research both have limitations. We emphasize the need for integrative approaches to understand the process and combine information between basic and clinical fields so that a more complete picture of SG will emerge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Rats
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*