Assessing the effects of attention and emotion on blink startle modulation
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Two experiments were conducted to assess simultaneously the effects of attentional and emotional processes on startle eyeblink modulation. In each experiment, participants were presented with a pleasant and an unpleasant picture. Half the participants were asked to attend to the pleasant picture and to ignore the unpleasant picture, whereas the reverse was the case for the other participants. Startle probes were presented at 3500 and 4500 ms after stimulus onset in Experiment 1 and at 250, 750, and 4450 ms after stimulus onset and 950 ms after stimulus offset in Experiment 2. Attentional processing affected startle eyeblink modulation and electrodermal responses in both experiments. However, effects of picture valence on startle eyeblink modulation were found only in Experiment 2. The results confirm the utility of startle eyeblink modulation as an index of attentional and emotional processing. They also illustrate that procedural characteristics, such as the nature of the lead intervals and how attention and emotion are operationalized, can determine whether emotional or attentional processes will be reflected in startle eyeblink.
Journal of Psychophysiology
PRE2009-Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiologica
PRE2009-Learning, Memory, Cognition and Language