• Open Access

Decomposition of skin conductance data by means of nonnegative deconvolution


  • This publication was supported by the research grant P19276 of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). We are grateful to Susanne Gildehaus and Annika Pein for their help in the collection and preprocessing of data.

  • Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with Terms and Conditions set out at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/authorresources/onlineopen.html

Address reprint requests to: Mathias Benedek, Institut für Psychologie, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Maiffredygasse 12b, 8010 Graz, Austria. E-mail: mathias.benedek@uni-graz.at


Skin conductance (SC) data are usually characterized by a sequence of overlapping phasic skin conductance responses (SCRs) overlying a tonic component. The variability of SCR shapes hereby complicates the proper decomposition of SC data. A method is proposed for full decomposition of SC data into tonic and phasic components. A two-compartment diffusion model was found to adequately describe a standard SCR shape based on the process of sweat diffusion. Nonnegative deconvolution is used to decompose SC data into discrete compact responses and at the same time assess deviations from the standard SCR shape, which could be ascribed to the additional process of pore opening. Based on the result of single non-overlapped SCRs, response parameters can be estimated precisely as shown in a paradigm with varying inter-stimulus intervals.