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Testing a linear time invariant model for skin conductance responses by intraneural recording and stimulation

Journal article
Authors S. Gerster
B. Namer
Mikael Elam
D. R. Bach
Published in Psychophysiology
Volume 55
Issue 2
ISSN 0048-5772
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Language en
Keywords microneurography, psychophysiological model, skin conductance, sudomotor nerve, sympathetic nervous system
Subject categories Neurosciences, Neurophysiology


Skin conductance responses (SCR) are increasingly analyzed with model-based approaches that assume a linear and time-invariant (LTI) mapping from sudomotor nerve (SN) activity to observed SCR. These LTI assumptions have previously been validated indirectly, by quantifying how much variance in SCR elicited by sensory stimulation is explained under an LTI model. This approach, however, collapses sources of variability in the nervous and effector organ systems. Here, we directly focus on the SN/SCR mapping by harnessing two invasive methods. In an intraneural recording experiment, we simultaneously track SN activity and SCR. This allows assessing the SN/SCR relationship but possibly suffers from interfering activity of non-SN sympathetic fibers. In an intraneural stimulation experiment under regional anesthesia, such influences are removed. In this stimulation experiment, about 95% of SCR variance is explained under LTI assumptions when stimulation frequency is below 0.6 Hz. At higher frequencies, nonlinearities occur. In the intraneural recording experiment, explained SCR variance is lower, possibly indicating interference from non-SN fibers, but higher than in our previous indirect tests. We conclude that LTI systems may not only be a useful approximation but in fact a rather accurate description of biophysical reality in the SN/SCR system, under conditions of low baseline activity and sporadic external stimuli. Intraneural stimulation under regional anesthesia is the most sensitive method to address this question. © 2017 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research

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