This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Grants MH37757, MH41950, and MH43975. A poster of the data was presented at the 29th meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in New Orleans (Bradley, Cuthbert, & Lang, 1989).
Startle Reflex Modification: Emotion or Attention?
Article first published online: 30 JAN 2007
Volume 27, Issue 5, pages 513–522, September 1990
How to Cite
Bradley, M. M., Cuthbert, B. N. and Lang, P. J. (1990), Startle Reflex Modification: Emotion or Attention?. Psychophysiology, 27: 513–522. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1990.tb01966.x
Thanks to Karen Holk and Margaret Petry for their assistance in data collection and scoring, and to Andy Bertron for his careful work in getting the manuscript into shape for publication.
- Issue published online: 30 JAN 2007
- Article first published online: 30 JAN 2007
- (Manuscript received May 22, 1989; accepted for publication October 17, 1989)
- Eyeblink reflex;
Alternative interpretations of startle probe modulation by a pictorial foreground were tested: Either reflex amplitude varies as a function of modality-determined attention allocation, or, regardless of probe modality, reflex amplitude varies with the emotional valence of the foreground content. Thirty-six subjects viewed a series of 54 slides, divided into two 27-slide blocks. Each block consisted of nine exemplars of three independently rated emotional content categories—pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant. Startle probes, half visual (flashgun) and half acoustic (white noise), were presented unpredictably during and between slide presentations. Eyeblink reflexes, corrugator and orbicularis oculi muscle tension, heart rate, and skin conductance were recorded during a 6-s slide interval. Subjects subsequently rated the slides for emotional valence and arousal, and interest value. Free-viewing times were also recorded. Analysis of reflex response and all ancillary measures supported the hypothesis that the primary determinant of startle modulation was the emotional valence of foreground content.