Modulation of the startle reflex across time by unpleasant pictures distinguishes dysphoric from non-dysphoric women


While several investigators have examined differences in affective startle modulation between individuals
with and without Major Depressive Disorder, fewer researchers have evaluated the time course of this response, particularly in dysphoric individuals. The purpose of this study was to evaluate emotion modulation of the startle reflex during and after the presentation of affective pictures in dysphoric and non-dysphoric women. Dysphoric subjects showed attenuated startle for unpleasant compared to neutral pictures 1.5 s post-stimulus onset relative to non-dysphoric subjects and potentiated startle for unpleasant compared to neutral pictures 3 s post-stimulus offset. These findings extend the literature on the time course of affective startle modulation in dysphoria, and mirror results of studies in which other psychophysiological responses were examined in this population with regard to negative emotion.


Lauren E. Taubitz
Jordan S. Robinson
Christine L Larson