Continuous Recordings of Impedance and Phase Angle During Electrodermal Reactions and the Locus of Impedance Change


Address requests for reprints to: Dr. W. Boucsein, Department of Psychology, University of Wuppertal, Max-Horkheimer-Str. 20, D-5600 Wuppertal 1, Federal Republic of Germany.


The relatively few studies that use alternating current (AC) in exosomatic electrodermal recording techniques focus on tonic measurement but not on phasic measures. AC methods of phasic measurement, however, are most useful in testing electrical models of the electrodermal response. Problems arising from AC recording of fast electrodermal changes are discussed, and an appropriate measurement concept for continuous recording of impedance and phase angle is developed. This enables tonic values of both parameters to be offset in order to sufficiently amplify small changes. An AC frequency of 100 Hz was used in recording electrodermal activity in 10 subjects during an habituation series of 80dB 1000 Hz tones. Comparison of transformed curves showed that the main component of electrical changes accompanying electrodermal response is a shift in conductance while susceptance shows only small fluctuations. According to a widely accepted simple electrical model of skin, these results indicate that electrodermal responses take place mainly in the resistive element which parallels the capacitance associated with the stratum corneum, but that other components may be involved too.