Disuse supersensitivity refers to increased sensitivity by a post-synaptic cell because of decreased input by incoming axons.

Disuse supersensitivity is a phenomenon in psychology where a lack of use or stimulation of a particular neural pathway or receptor can cause an increased sensitivity to subsequent stimulation. This can occur in a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders, and may have implications for the development and treatment of these conditions.

Examples of situations where disuse supersensitivity may be relevant include:

  1. Deprivation-induced plasticity: In animal models, sensory deprivation can lead to increased sensitivity in other sensory modalities. For example, rats that are deprived of visual input may develop increased sensitivity to auditory or tactile stimuli.

  2. Psychiatric disorders: Disuse supersensitivity has been implicated in the development and treatment of certain psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. In this context, it is hypothesized that a lack of normal stimulation of certain dopamine receptors may lead to an increased sensitivity to subsequent dopamine release, contributing to the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.

  3. Addiction: Disuse supersensitivity has also been implicated in addiction, particularly with respect to the reward pathway in the brain. With chronic drug use, the brain's reward pathway may become desensitized to the effects of the drug, leading to a decrease in the subjective experience of reward. However, when the drug is withheld, the individual may experience an increased sensitivity to subsequent drug use, leading to craving and relapse.

  4. Motor disorders: Disuse supersensitivity may also play a role in the development of motor disorders such as Parkinson's disease. In this context, it is thought that a lack of normal stimulation of certain dopamine receptors in the basal ganglia may contribute to the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Overall, disuse supersensitivity is an important phenomenon in psychology that can have implications for the development and treatment of a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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