Postauricular reflexes elicited by soft acoustic clicks and loud noise probes: Reliability, prepulse facilitation, and sensitivity to picture contents

Rachel V. Aaron, Stephen D. Benning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The startle blink reflex is facilitated during early picture viewing, then inhibited by attention during pleasant and aversive pictures compared to neutral pictures, and finally potentiated during aversive pictures specifically. However, it is unclear whether the postauricular reflex, which is elicited by the same loud acoustic probe as the startle blink reflex but enhanced by appetitive instead of defensive emotion, has the same pattern and time course of emotional modulation. We examined this issue in a sample of 90 undergraduates using serially presented soft acoustic clicks that elicited postauricular (but not startle blink) reflexes in addition to standard startle probes. Postauricular reflexes elicited by both clicks and probes correlated during food and nurturant contents, during which they were potentiated compared to neutral pictures, suggesting clicks effectively elicit emotionally modulated postauricular reflexes. The postauricular reflex was initially facilitated during the first 500 ms of picture processing but was larger during pleasant than neutral pictures throughout picture processing, with larger effect sizes during the latter half of picture processing. Across reflexes and eliciting stimuli, measures of emotional modulation had higher coefficient alphas than magnitudes during specific picture contents within each valence, indicating that only emotional modulation measures assess higher-order appetitive or defensive processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1900-1908
Number of pages9
JournalPSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY
Volume53
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Internal consistency
  • Postauricular reflex
  • Prepulse facilitation
  • Startle blink reflex
  • Time course

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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