Independence of valence modulation and prepulse inhibition of startle

Academic Article


  • This study sought to determine whether prepulse inhibition and valence modulation of startle are independent, both within and across individuals. Acoustic probes (105 dB) were delivered as 68 undergraduates viewed pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant pictures. Weak acoustic stimuli (8 dB above background) preceded half of the probes by 120 ms. As expected, startles were larger during unpleasant than during pleasant pictures, and smaller on prepulse than no-prepulse trials. In general, valence modulation and prepulse inhibition of startle were unrelated. That is, prepulse inhibition was consistent across affective states, valence modulation did not differ between no-prepulse and prepulse trials, and valence modulation and prepulse inhibition effects were uncorrelated across individuals. Analysis of raw and percent modification scores generally led to similar conclusions. It is concluded that valence modulation and prepulse inhibition are independent startle modulatory phenomena, although this conclusion is tempered by a finding of poor internal consistency reliability for valence modulation.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Psychophysiology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hawk LW; Cook EW
  • Start Page

  • 5
  • End Page

  • 12
  • Volume

  • 37
  • Issue

  • 1