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Medical Low Latent Inhibition, Discussion/Question!

  1. Sep 6, 2011 #1
    Good day to everyone,

    I was reading up earlier on Low Latent InhibitionMy question is does anyone have any idea or knowledge of a test available at the moment. They have already tested students from Harvard

    Here's the source: ''http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/10.23/01-creativity.html'' [Broken]

    I'm kind of suprised that this isn't something widely known mostly because I was thinking that with a bit of research, and with having seen the movie 'limitless' came the idea where one could 'boost' someone of decent IQ in ways people would not anticipate...

    I'd like any thoughts or feedback if possible, and If anyone who honestly thinks they have LLI would want to talk it over on PM or in this thread in public, I'd really like some opinion from someone who has it and or people who wanna tackle this thread on a more technical side.

    PS: They say it's hard to figure out who has it or not since basicly it comes down to a whole new way of seeing stuff which at first sounds normal to anyone who would have LLI.

    P.N: English isn't my first language, therefore some sentences might not be in a correct order. I have reread myself twice in hopes of making this smooth on you guys. Hopefully it's not too bad and me reading alot has helped.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2011 #2


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    Per the article.

  4. Sep 7, 2011 #3
    Thanks for the quote Evo. I am still interested in trying to find someone on this forum who has been diagnosed with LLI, as well as trying to figure out the tests they are using.

    I'm guessing some scan of the brain while having lots of stimulis could potentially give a hint as to if the person is receiving more than usual stimulis.

    Any additional info you guys want to toss in is welcomed. I really find it sad that there is not alot of information out on this. The same stuff is thrown on the internet over and over. Basicly it's one article re-written by several people. A couple of words vary but that's pretty much it.

    PM is an option if someone has LLI but doesn't want to talk about it in this thread.
    As the article says, the line is blury in between madness and creative genius. (some would say there is no line and it's just a matter of objectivity/opinions.) I do however think that it's not black and white and that people can have this to a certain degree.
  5. Sep 7, 2011 #4


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    Low latent inhibition is not a mental illness that carries a diagnosis, it is a term.

    Oddly, one of the simplest, briefest explanations is a blurb in UK yahoo answers, go figure.


    There does seem to be a link to mental illness from the preliminary studies back in 2003, but I haven't found if they ever completed the study or gave up. Maybe someone else else knows.


    It has nothing to do with creative "genius" that was something you read on the internet.

    My show is on, so I must go.
  6. Sep 7, 2011 #5
    As the quote you just metionned has been also read on the internet. Sorry I misused a couple words there. I meant that it can go from psychosis TO some creative genius.

    Thanks for the links, I'll still be looking for a test if anyone happens to find one!

    :) Thanks for replying to my lonely thread evo!
  7. Sep 7, 2011 #6


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    No, the study was on students that had high IQ's and they thought they found some relation to creativity aside from mental illness. Not genius level creativity. The study also did not test average people.
  8. Sep 8, 2011 #7
    True, the word genius probably got tossed in there. Anyhow this is one of the main reasons i'm trying to find someone to talk to who has LLI. I am pretty sure that someone with a little above IQ can do just fine with LLI, but I don't have anything to prove this and still can't find a test for this besides the article on the harvard students. (which like you said are not average people.)

    Any thoughts?
  9. Sep 15, 2011 #8
    LLI sounds like ADD to me.
  10. Sep 15, 2011 #9


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    Latent inhibition is a specific learning behavior exhibited during conditioning. Wiki quotes the Journal of Psychopharmacology:

    "A stimulus that has not had any significance in the past takes longer to acquire meaning (as a signal) than a new stimulus. It is "a measure of reduced learning about a stimulus to which there has been prior exposure without any consequence."

    To have low latent inhibition would expose an organism to extra stimulus, but it's symptoms are more likened to schizophrenia than ADHD/ADD. The major difference goes back to the definition of latent inhibition and the specific qualifier "... to which there has been prior exposure without any consequence".

    To put things into little boxes and generalize: people with ADD/ADHD will fixate on irrelevant stimulus regardless of previous conditioning history with that stimulus. People with shizophrenia will develop a conditioned relationship with ambient stimulus.
  11. Sep 15, 2011 #10
    My latent inhibition is preventing me from forming a conditioned relationship with these words. Give me an example of an LLI/shizophrenic type conditioned relationship with ambient stimulus. I'm just not sure what that might mean in real terms.
  12. Sep 15, 2011 #11


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    Well firstly, LLI is simply a behavior trait. We all have a tendency to exhibit it particular times. An extreme and persistent LLI would definitely be associated with problems, but a better word for a negative symptom would be "impaired latent inhibition", since low isn't necissarily impaired. The point is that ADD/ADHD symptoms aren't confined to the conditioning history of the stimulus. The point is NOT that this is a requirement for shizophrenia, but there are definitely examples in schizophrenia (of the paranoid type).

    An anecdotal example from clinical work (and hearsay):

    a patient with schizophrenia claims that the TV is always talking to them. The TV (serving as an ambient stimulus) has always been on in the background as they do their chores, but they start hearing particular words that seem significant, and then gradually... eventually.. have full-blown hallucinations of the TV talking to them specifically.

    My professor told the story much better of course, because he was allegedly there. Maybe A case study from helpguide.org:

    Anyway, the point is that this set of stimulus that is seemingly important to the patient basically grows out of nothing. Somebody with ADD/ADHD will likely not have impaired latent inhibition, so they're not going to start giving meaning to the stimulus that has never had meaning before (even though they may be distracted by it).
  13. Sep 15, 2011 #12
    I don't believe those paranoid symptoms represent an impaired inhibition. Rather, they strike me as a result of an amplification of a normal function: hyperactivity in the amygdala, an erroneously amplified fight or flight response. Remarks and activity that would normally seem neutral trigger distress, fear, hostility, not because an inhibition has failed, but because a sensitivity has increased. It's true it may grow out of nothing in the person's history, but the specific form it takes is so selective for danger that I'd have to doubt it represents a general impairment of Latent Inhibition.

    That aside, I never-the-less got your point about giving emotional valence to something that you used to screen out. Still, give me a couple examples of non-paranoid LLI.
  14. Sep 16, 2011 #13


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    I think you're getting stuck on the etymology of the term "latent inhibition". It is a psychological observation, not a neural one. The neural mechanism is likely a retrograde signaling one, which is why there is a common association with it to THC (endogenous cannaboids are retrograde signalers). This is the whole point about "latent".

    So the amygdala suddenly becomes more sensitive to a stimulus, but the amygdala had previously not sent up a red flag about the stimulus before; remember, the stimulus is not new to the amygdala, that's the key point here! It should have "gotten used to" the stimulus by now... i.e. it should have latently (having sampled it before with no consequence) inhibited (stopped) responses to it. But instead, the responses developed a heightened reaction to that same stimulus. It became more sensitive, sure, but in addition, it became more sensitive to a stimulus it had already seen.

    To that end, a note on neural mechanisms in general: an inhibiting neuron that inhibits an inhibitor serves, effectively, as an excitatory neuron. The amygdala is quite an elaborate and complex network, there is no doubt a concoction of excitatory and inhibitory subnetworks playing off each other in a feedback manner; so there would be no problem with extra sensitivity coming from inhibition in the first place. We can also excite the inhibitor. The more the exciter of the inhibitor is excited, the more inhibition occurs*. So we always have to be explicitly about what exactly we mean by inhibition, sensitivity, and excitation. They are completely different yet dangerously similar across psychology and neuroscience.

    *This is in fact, well documented in the sensitization of the aplysia withdrawal reflex when modulatory serotonin neurons potentiate the inhibitor neuron:

    a detailed, illustrated explaination:

    you do some action regularly with your hand at work (but it's not required for work). One day you hurt your hand; you go back to work and go back to that regular action. It hurts, but you keep doing it because of latent inhibition; it takes you longer to learn.

    On the other hand, if you were having a 'low latent inhibition' day, you would learn right away not to do that action anymore. The emotional significance of the pain would be enough. You wouldn't soon forget and go back to doing that action. You might even be fixated on not doing that action ever again.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
  15. Sep 18, 2011 #14
    True. I was actually mentally classifying it as a "neurological" function, rather than a "neural" one (there's a difference, I think), whereas it's clear from the linked article in the OP it's a psychological one.
    I have a problem with the concept. It sounds so "soft" as to be handwaving. Not on your part, but the part of the people who developed the concept.

    I like this explanation. Thanks.
    Here again, the whole thing seems like very "soft science", such that I'm not seeing the importance of following this train of logic. That could be some idiosyncracy on my part, I'm not sure, but I have some sort of blind spot about the usefulness of looking at the phenomenon of attention in these terms.
  16. Sep 18, 2011 #15


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    Well, it is an artifact of behavioralism, which is mostly replaced by neuroethology today (looking at the interplay between social influences and genetic ones; whereas behavioralism assumes you can make anybody into anything with environment; incorrect in a world of genetic (and epigenetic) variation.

    But it still has its uses. You might imagine that a behavioralist working on the World of Warcraft team might have some purpose in understanding latent inhibition and how it could influence whether you keep playing their game or get distracted by real life.

    Or if you're a dog trainer, there might be caveats about certain conditioning regiments and the order in which you can do things (it could, for instance, slow down your regiment if a stimulus that has meaning to the training is taking longer to acquire significance because the owners had the stimulus around their home in an insignificant way.)

    So having these semantics makes thinking about problems in behavioral conditioning and troubleshooting them easier.
  17. Sep 19, 2011 #16
    That makes sense, but I think there are better ways to analyze the phenomenon of attention, even just psychologically.

    In response to the observation that crazy people and creative people seem both to pay attention to things others ignore, it strikes me as non-informative and frictionless to say "They don't inhibit them." That's just a reverse-paraphrase of the statement, "They pay attention to them", and the fact they pay attention to them is more fruitful approach, IMO, than viewing it from the perspective: "They don't ignore them".

    I understand, though, you're simply explaining what it is for my benefit, not defending it.

    On a separate note, here's something you should have a look at:

  18. Sep 19, 2011 #17


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    There is a broad distinction between attention and habit. What people with normal latent inhibition are doing is becoming quickly habituated to irrelevent stimuli. They are learning to filter out background noise (and that fast-established habit then makes it less likely they will notice the stimulus when there is an experimental manipulation that asks them to spot a now relevant correlation).

    Schizophrenia can be best thought of as a disease of attention. The filtering of perception into relevant and irrelevant (and even into "I and world") breaks down.

    It is also plausible that creativity is partly explainable as part of normal variation. Some people are less good at establishing the habits that discount stimuli.

    On the other hand, it seems equally plausible that the creative learn cognitive strategies that mean they are more careful to look for the stuff hidden in the background of their awareness.

    It is certainly true that actually being "creative" is 99% perspiration vs 1% inspiration. Well, a bit of an exaggeration, but creativity worth a damn is about a lot of things, such as 10,000 hours of practice, motivation, mentorship, opportunity, a neurological advantage being a necessary but not sufficient ingredient of the complex mix.

    Furthermore, the true neurological advantage when it comes to attention is probably the ability to switch strongly between vigilant and focused attentional styles (or crudely, right and left brain styles of thought). An able brain can switch between distractable and concentrated, exogenous and endogenous focus.

    While schizophrenia, sadly, is pretty much only about a neurological disadvantage (even if stress, recreational drugs, unsupportive environment, etc, are part of the negative feedback that results in a downward spiral).

    So the link being made between madness and creativity is the usual popular myth. Creativity correlates with bipolar disease (and you can see why with art if the downs give you the material and the mania gives you the energy to work :smile:). But they are not two sides of the same coin.

    Whereas the normal functioning of the brain is well described by a fluent allocation of resources. The divide into attention and habit, into vigilance and focus, into work and play. And like athletes, fluency can be a natural gift, but it is nothing without the training.
  19. Sep 19, 2011 #18
    Yes this pretty much articulates the way I feel about the madness/genius meme. In addition to what you said it seem that the people who perpetuate the meme have never actually met real crazy people, because if they had they'd see it's 99% suffering and 1% creativity. Some incredibly tiny percentage of the world's mentally ill have gained notoriety for creative endeavors and this is mistaken for the norm. A larger percentage of crazy people attempt creative achievements but lack the discipline to realize their ideas: learning to write or paint well takes years of daily practice. Someone linked to an excellent paper a couple years back that talked about the need to be able to shift you mentioned. Was that you? (I don't recall what thread it was in.)
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