Society for Psychophysiological Research

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The Society for Psychophysiological Research is an international scientific organization with over 800 members worldwide. The society is composed of scientists whose research is focused on the study of the interrelationships between the physiological and psychological aspects of behavior. [1] [2]



“The body is the medium of experience and the instrument of action. Through its actions we shape and organize our experiences and distinguish our perceptions of the outside world from sensations that arise within the body itself.” (Jonathan Miller, The Body in Question, 1978)

Jonathan Miller British medical doctor, neurologist, theatre director, etc. (born 1934)

Sir Jonathan Wolfe Miller, CBE is an English theatre and opera director, actor, author, television presenter, humourist, and medical doctor. After training in medicine, and specialising in neurology, in the late 1950s, he came to prominence in the early 1960s in the comedy revue Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett.

Like anatomy and physiology, psychophysiology is a branch of science interested in bodily systems. However, anatomy is primarily concerned with body structures and relationships amongst structures, and physiology is primarily interested in the function of these structures or systems—or with how different parts of the body work. Psychophysiological research covers both of these concerns, but is also interested in connecting anatomy and physiology with psychological phenomena. [3] In other words, psychophysiological research can consist of the study of social, psychological, and/or behavioral phenomena as they are reflected in the body. [4] A great deal of psychophysiological research has focused on the physiological instantiation of emotion, but with increased access to measures of the central nervous system, psychophysiological research has also examined cognitive processes.

Anatomy The study of the structure of organisms and their parts

Anatomy is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its beginnings in prehistoric times. Anatomy is inherently tied to developmental biology, embryology, comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, and phylogeny, as these are the processes by which anatomy is generated over immediate (embryology) and long (evolution) timescales. Anatomy and physiology, which study (respectively) the structure and function of organisms and their parts, make a natural pair of related disciplines, and they are often studied together. Human anatomy is one of the essential basic sciences that are applied in medicine.

Physiology science of the function of living systems

Physiology is the scientific study of the functions and mechanisms which work within a living system.

Psychophysiology is the branch of psychology that is concerned with the physiological bases of psychological processes. While psychophysiology was a general broad field of research in the 1960s and 1970s, it has now become quite specialized, and has branched into subspecializations such as social psychophysiology, cardiovascular psychophysiology, cognitive psychophysiology, and cognitive neuroscience.

Psychophysiological methods

Heart rate variability

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval.

Sympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system, the other being the parasympathetic nervous system.

Parasympathetic nervous system one of the three divisions of the autonomic nervous system, the others being the sympathetic nervous system and enteric nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) is one of the two divisions of the autonomic nervous system, the other being the sympathetic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating the body's unconscious actions. The parasympathetic system is responsible for stimulation of "rest-and-digest" or "feed and breed" activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating, including sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion and defecation. Its action is described as being complementary to that of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for stimulating activities associated with the fight-or-flight response.


As late as the 1950s, the field of psychophysiology was not a fully unified discipline. Psychophysiologists published in multiple non-specialist journals and were often not abreast of their colleagues’ work. However, in 1955, the influential early psychophysiologist Albert F. Ax (1913-1994) began circulating The Psychophysiology Newsletter, a slight collection of methodological observations and bibliographies for various psychophysiological methods. The first volume was free to subscribers, and for several years the newsletter circulated to fewer than 50 members. [8]

Nonetheless, his work on the newsletter allowed Ax to organize and open communication amongst psychophysiologists from across North America. Through his work, the discipline and field of psychophysiology began to cohere. Scientists were better able to communicate not only their scientific findings, but also methodological advances they’d made in what was—at the time—a relatively crude and fledgling science. In the 1950s, Ax also began arranging formal meetings of these early psychophysiologists in what became known as the “Psychophysiology Group.” For several years, the group met regularly at the annual American Psychological Association conference. And at the 1959 meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, the group decided to establish its own society, in part in order to oversee the transformation of The Psychophysiology Newsletter into a peer-reviewed scientific journal (which became the journal Psychophysiology ). [9] Aside from Ax, many scientists who became officers of the fledgling society were present, including R.C. Davis (chair of the organizing board), [10] Marion Augustus “Gus” Wenger, Robert Edelberg, Martine Orne, Clinton C. Brown, and William W. Grings. [11] [12] The society took the name Society for Psychophysiological Research, and since its first informal gatherings, has grown to over 800 members worldwide and has held 51 annual meetings in North America and Europe. [13]

American Psychological Association scientific and professional organization

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States, with around 117,500 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. The APA has an annual budget of around $115m. There are 54 divisions of the APA—interest groups covering different subspecialties of psychology or topical areas.

Psychophysiology is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. The current editor-in-chief is Monica Fabiani.

Roland Clark Davis was an American psychologist recognized for his innovation in instrumentation and measurement of electrophysiological phenomena. Davis contributed to the measurement of electrodermal activity, gastric reflexes, and muscle action potentials. Davis published over 70 articles on psychophysiology and related topics across a 30-year career and mentored many graduate students at Indiana University Bloomington from 1931 through 1961.

The society continues to publish Psychophysiology , [14] [15] [16] an influential [17] monthly peer-reviewed journal interested in advancing psychophysiological science and human neuroscience, covering research on the interrelationships between the physiological and psychological aspects of brain and behavior. [18]

Annual meeting

The annual meeting of Society for Psychophysiological Research is attended by scientists from around the world. The meeting includes presentations of new theory, methods, and research in the form of invited addresses, symposia, poster sessions, and Presidential and Award addresses. [19] At each meeting, the society also typically offers preconference workshops on specific topics or methodological advances. [20] Topics covered in the 2011 preconference workshops included a bootcamp on Event-related potential Methodologies, Genetic Approaches to the Biology of Complex Traits, and Fundamentals of Pupillary Measures and Eye tracking. [21] Recent meetings have been held in Portland, OR, Berlin, Germany, Vancouver, British Columbia, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Florence, Italy. [22] [23] [24] Meetings have been scheduled to be held at various locations around the world. [25]


Distinguished Contributions to Psychophysiology

Past Awardees: [26] [27]

Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychophysiology

Past awardees: [29] [30]

  • Connie Duncan (1980) [31]
  • Kathleen C. Light (1980)
  • John Cacioppo (1981) [32]
  • William Iacono (1982)
  • Graham Turpin (1984)
  • Ray Johnson, Jr. (1985)
  • Alan J. Fridlund (1986)
  • J. Rick Turner (1988)
  • Ulf Dimberg (1988)
  • Kimmo Alho (1990)
  • Thomas W. Kamarck (1991)
  • Steven A. Hackley (1992)
  • George R. Mangun (1993) [33]
  • Christopher J. Patrick (1993)
  • Cyma Van Petten (1994)
  • Friedemann Pulvermuller (1995)
  • Erich Schroger (1996)
  • Brett A. Clementz (1997)
  • Gabriele Gratton (1997)
  • Christopher R. France (1998)
  • Axel Mecklinger (1999)
  • John J.B. Allen (2000)
  • James Gross (2000) [34]
  • Martin Heil (2001)
  • Eddie Harmon-Jones (2002)
  • Thomas Ritz (2003)
  • Frank Wilhelm (2004)
  • Kent A. Kiehl (2005) [35]
  • Kara Federmeier (2006)
  • Diego Pizzagalli (2006)
  • Bruce D. Bartholow (2007)
  • Markus Ullsperger (2008)
  • Sander Nieuwenhuis (2009)
  • James Coan (2010)
  • Eveline Crone (2011) [36] [37]
  • Greg Hajcak (2012)
  • Ilse Van Dienst (2013)

Training Award Fellowships

Award funds graduate students and post-doctoral students who wish to obtain training in psychophysiology which falls outside of the scope of their home labs. [38] [39] [40] [41]

Student Poster Awards

Award signals excellence in research presented in a poster format by a student member. [42] [43]

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  11. 1977 audiorecording of unpublished interview conducted by David Shapiro with Albert Ax and William Grings;  : Folder: SPR; file: 01 SPR.mp3
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