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What exactly does "skin conductance" measure??

John H. Casada casad at umich.edu
Mon May 19 07:18:32 EST 1997

mdonkers at kub.nl wrote:
> >Nate wrote:
> >>
> >> And secondly, what is/are the underlying mechanism(s) this is measuring?
> >> (eg, sympathetic, parasympathetic, etc?)
> >Sympathetic arousal. When we are anxious, fearful, our hands sweat.
> >Sweat contains salt which increases conductance and can be measured
> >Larry Brash

This seems to imply that skin conductance is actually measuring salt.  
This is problematic since the gels used in the electrodes for this 
contain isotonic saline.  The salt is already present at the electrode 
site.  Also, skin conductance shows both increases and decreases in a 
short time.  If it was only salt being measured, this would imply that 
the skin takes up the salt again.

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