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Auditory startle reflex inhibited by preceding self-action


  • This study was supported by the Program for the Strategic Research Foundation at Private Universities (MEXT) to Kansei Fukushi Research Institute, Tohoku Fukushi University (2008–2012).


A startle reflex to a startle pulse is inhibited when preceded by a prestimulus. We introduced a key-press action (self-action) or an 85 dB noise burst as a prestimulus, followed by a 115 dB noise burst as a startle pulse. We manipulated temporal offsets between the prestimulus and the startle pulse from 30–1,500 ms to examine whether self-action modulates the startle reflex and the temporal properties of the modulatory effect. We assessed eyeblink reflexes by electromyography. Both prestimuli decreased reflexes compared to pulse-alone trials. Moreover, the temporal windows of inhibition were different between the types of prestimuli. A faster maximal inhibition and narrower temporal window in self-action trials suggest that preceding self-action inhibits the startle reflex and allows prediction of the coming pulse in different ways from auditory prestimuli.