Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Interstimulus Interval

  • Androulla Ioannou
  • Xenia Anastassiou-HadjicharalambousEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1029-1


Interstimulus interval can be defined as the time interval between the end of one stimulus presentation and the onset of another stimulus presentation.


The concept of interstimulus interval is frequently encountered within processes of non-associative learning, specifically habituation and sensitization Petrinovich (1984).

Experimental Research on Interstimulus Interval

Interstimulus interval experiments were extensive under the work of Davis (1970) on habituation of the acoustic-startle response in the rat. Generally, through Davis’s series of experimental studies it was demonstrated that the length of interstimulus interval, as well as variability (regularity), determines habituation in animals. The author compared the responsiveness of two groups of rats to a 50-ms, 120-db tone of 4000 Hz during pretest, training, and posttest periods. During both the pretest and the posttest periods, both groups of subjects received 300 tone exposures at intervals of 2, 4,...

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  1. Davis, M. (1970). Effects of interstimulus interval length and variability on startle-response habituation in the rat. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 72(2), 177.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Groves, P.M. & Thompson, R.F. (1970). Habituation: a dual-process theory. Psychological Review, 77(5), 419–450.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Petrinovich, L. (1984). A two-factor dual-process theory of habituation and sensitization. In H. Peeke (Ed.), Habituation, sensitization, and behavior (pp. 17–55). Orlando: Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Androulla Ioannou
    • 1
  • Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus