Conditioning and sensitisation in the longitudinal course of affective illness

Br J Psychiatry. 1986 Aug;149:191-201. doi: 10.1192/bjp.149.2.191.


Few biological theories of manic-depressive illness have focused on the longitudinal course of affective dysfunction and the mechanisms underlying its often recurrent and progressive course. The authors discuss two models for the development of progressive behavioural dysfunction--behavioural sensitisation and electrophysiological kindling--as they provide clues to important clinical and biological variables relevant to sensitisation in affective illness. The role of environmental context and conditioning in mediating behavioural and biochemical aspects of this sensitisation is emphasised. The sensitisation models provide a conceptual approach to previously inexplicable clinical phenomena in the longitudinal course of affective illness and may provide a bridge between psychoanalytic/psychosocial and neurobiological formulations of manic-depressive illness.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kindling, Neurologic
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Mood Disorders / metabolism
  • Mood Disorders / psychology*