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Postauricular and superior auricular reflex modulation during emotional pictures and sounds


  • This work was completed in partial fulfillment for the doctoral degree of Stephen D. Benning from the University of Minnesota. Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Mental Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award MH070104-01.

Address correspondence to: Stephen D. Benning, PMB 407817, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240. E-mail:


The postauricular reflex is a relatively new psychophysiological measure of appetitive emotional processing during picture viewing. However, the degree to which other auricular (i.e., superior and anterior auricular) muscles might exhibit reflexive activity congruent with that found in the postauricular muscle has not been investigated, nor has the robustness of postauricular reflex modulation across stimulus modality. In this study, postauricular reflexes were the only reflexes that showed consistent emotional modulation across ears and genders. Additionally, postauricular reflexes were significantly modulated for both emotional pictures and sounds; in both cases, postauricular reflexes were greatest during pleasant stimuli.