This article is about physiological/psychological stimulation. For the well activity, see Well stimulation. For the album, see Stimulation (album).
Not to be confused with Simulation.
Stimulation or excitation is the action of various agents (stimuli) on nerves, muscles, 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, whether everyday general physical activity or sexual stimulation. Stimulation is often connected with psychological stimulation, which concerns how a stimulus affects a person's thinking process.

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. Stimulate means to act as a stimulus to; stimulus means things that rouse to activity.


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.


Psychologically, it is possible to become habituated to a degree of stimulation, and then find it uncomfortable to have a significant change in the level of stimulation. Thus one can become used to a certain amount of a stimulation such as an intense, fast-paced life or television and suffer withdrawal when they are removed. Stress and unhappiness are possible from lack of an accustomed level of stimulation.

It is hypothesized that long-term overstimulation can result eventually in a phenomenon called "adrenal exhaustion" over time, but this is neither medically accepted nor proven at this time[citation needed].

Ongoing, long-term stimulation can for some individuals prove harmful, and a more relaxed and less stimulated life may be beneficial despite possible, initial discomfort or stress from the change. See also; sensory overload and burnout.

See also