Stimulus

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Etymology

Latin stimulatus, past participle of stimulare, from stimulus goad; perhaps akin to Latin stilus stem, stylus

Definition

Description

Stimulation is the action of various agents (stimuli) on muscles, nerves, or a sensory end organ, by which activity is evoked; especially, the nervous impulse produced by various agents on nerves, or a sensory end organ, by which the part connected with the nerve is thrown into a state of activity.

The word is also often used metaphorically. For example, an interesting or fun activity can be described as "stimulating", regardless of its physical effects on nerves.

Stimulation in general refers to how organisms perceive incoming stimuli. As such it is part of the stimulus-response mechanism. Simple organisms broadly react in three ways to stimulation: too little stimulation causes them to stagnate, too much to die from stress or inability to adapt, and a medium amount causes them to adapt and grow as they overcome it. Similar categories or effects are noted with psychological stress with people. Thus, stimulation may be described as how external events provoke a response by an individual in the attempt to cope.[1]