Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology

Living Edition
| Editors: Ian P. Stolerman, Lawrence H. Price

Sensitization to Drugs

  • Terry E. RobinsonEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27772-6_51-2


Behavioral augmentation; Behavioral facilitation; Behavioral sensitization; Reverse tolerance


The word “sensitization” is used to refer to a number of different but related effects. For example, in immunology, sensitization refers to the hypersensitivity to an antigen (often an allergen) that can develop upon repeated exposure to the antigen. In the study of learning, sensitization refers to a form of nonassociative learning whereby exposure to a stimulus (an unconditional stimulus, US) increases subsequent responsiveness to the same or other stimuli, even though they were not explicitly paired. Similarly, in pharmacology, the word sensitization has come to refer to an increase in a drug effect upon successive exposures to a drug or hypersensitivity to a drug in animals that were exposed to the drug in the past (Fig. 1). For example, one unconditional effect of drugs such as amphetamine or cocaine is to produce psychomotor activation, often measured as an increase...
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA