Attentional modulation of startle in psychosis‐prone college students

ANNE M. SCHELL, MICHAEL E. DAWSON, ERIN A. HAZLETT, DIANE L. FILION

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Attentional modulation of startle eyeblink was studied in college students putatively at risk for psychosis and in normal controls. At‐risk subjects had extreme scores on scales for either anhedonia or perceptual aberration‐magical thinking (per‐mags). Subjects were presented with to‐be‐attended and to‐be‐ignored tones; white noise startle probes were presented at lead intervals of 60, 120, 240, or 2,000 ms following the onset of attended and ignored tones and during intertone intervals. Controls showed greater inhibition of startle blink at 120 ms and greater facilitation at 2,000 ms during to‐be‐attended than to‐be‐ignored tone, demonstrating attentional modulation of prepulse inhibition and facilitation. Both at‐risk groups showed normal overall levels of early inhibition and late facilitation. However, per‐mags failed to show attentional modulation of either inhibition at 120 ms or facilitation at 2,000 ms; anhedonics showed no modulation of inhibition and modulation of facilitation was delayed in development. The results for the per‐mags are strikingly similar to those observed in schizophrenic patients and suggest that these deficits index a trait‐linked vulnerability to disorders in the schizophrenic spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-273
Number of pages8
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1995
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Psychosis proneness
  • Skin conductance
  • Startle eyeblink

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