Brain Responses to Repeated Visual Experience among Low and High Sensation Seekers: Role of Boredom Susceptibility


To better understand individual differences in sensation seeking and its components, including boredom susceptibility and experience seeking, we examined brain responses of high and low sensation seekers during repeated visual experience. Individuals scoring in the top and bottom quartiles from a college-aged population on the Brief Sensation-Seeking Scale (BSSS) participated in an event-related potentials (ERPs) experiment. Line drawings of common objects were randomly intermixed and presented 1-3 times. Sixty-four channel ERP responses were recorded while participants classified items as "man-made" or "not man-made" in a repetition priming task. The two groups showed different ERP responses at frontal electrode sites after seeing a visual stimulus for 400-800 ms. The frontal late positive components (LPC) showed different habituation of ERP responses to new and studied repeated objects between high and low sensation seekers. Source localization analysis (LORETA) indicated that during visual stimulus adaptation the ventral pre-frontal cortex showed lack of frontal involvement among high sensation seekers. Furthermore, frontal LPC latencies during repeated visual exposure correlated with boredom susceptibility and experience seeking subscales. The distinct profiles of brain responses to repeated visual experience in high and low sensation seekers provide evidence that individual differences in neural adaptation can be linked to personality dimensions.

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Published in Psychiatry Research, v. 173, issue 2, p. 100–106.

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