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The purpose of this research study is to identify if there are physiological response patterns associated with self-reported sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) in typical adults. SOR is the most common sensory modulation disorder and negatively affects the daily experiences of those that report SOR. The first phase of the study consisted of phone interviews where participants were screened for any potential characteristics that could affect physiological function. Then, the SRQ and AASP were used in conjunction to identify low and high SOR, typical adults. The last phase utilized the Sensory Challenge Protocol, which is both standardized and randomized, to expose participants to auditory, olfactory and tactile stimuli while collecting electrodermal response (EDR) data. This research has three major findings. First, EDR differences between high and low SOR groups are not significant, however, the high SOR group had generally higher EDR for almost all stimuli. Second, there was a strong correlation for inter- stimuli EDR, informing us that each individual has a general response style to stimuli regardless of their self-report. Lastly, there is no correlation between self-reported SOR and EDR. It is hypothesized that self-reported SOR is shaped by habituation, coping skills and varying life experiences. EDR can help support the experiences of those with high SOR, however it is not sensitive enough for diagnostic/clinical purposes. Additionally, when an individual has sensitivity in one area, there is likely sensitivity in other sensory areas as well but may be masked by coping skills, habituation or modulation.


Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor

Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L

Publication Date



Occupational Therapy

Physiological Responses of Adults with Sensory Over-Responsiveness