Habituation revisited: an updated and revised description of the behavioral characteristics of habituation

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 Sep;92(2):135-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2008.09.012. Epub 2008 Nov 6.


The most commonly cited descriptions of the behavioral characteristics of habituation come from two papers published almost 40 years ago [Groves, P. M., & Thompson, R. F. (1970). Habituation: A dual-process theory. Psychological Review, 77, 419-450; Thompson, R. F., & Spencer, W. A. (1966). Habituation: A model phenomenon for the study of neuronal substrates of behavior. Psychological Review, 73, 16-43]. In August 2007, the authors of this review, who study habituation in a wide range of species and paradigms, met to discuss their work on habituation and to revisit and refine the characteristics of habituation. This review offers a re-evaluation of the characteristics of habituation in light of these discussions. We made substantial changes to only a few of the characteristics, usually to add new information and expand upon the description rather than to substantially alter the original point. One additional characteristic, relating to long-term habituation, was added. This article thus provides a modern summary of the characteristics defining habituation, and can serve as a convenient primer for those whose research involves stimulus repetition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic* / physiology
  • Humans