Affective Individual Differences and Startle Reflex Modulation

Academic Article


  • Potentiation of startle has been demonstrated in experimentally produced aversive emotional states, and clinical reports suggest that potentiated startle may be associated with fear or anxiety. To test the generalizability of startle potentiation across a variety of emotional states as well as its sensitivity to individual differences in fearfulness, the acoustic startle response of 17 high- and 15 low-fear adult subjects was assessed during fear, anger, joy, sadness, pleasant relaxation, and neutral imagery. Startle responses were larger in all aversive affective states than during pleasant imagery. This effect was enhanced among high fear subjects, although followup testing indicated that other affective individual differences (depression and anger) may also be related to increased potentiation of startle in negative affect. Startle latency was reduced during high- rather than low-arousal imagery but was unaffected by emotional valence.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 22233446
  • Author List

  • Cook EW; Hawk LW; Davis TL; Stevenson VE
  • Start Page

  • 5
  • End Page

  • 13
  • Volume

  • 100
  • Issue

  • 1