Affective modulation of the startle reflex in schizophrenic patients
- Cite this article as:
- Schlenker, R., Cohen, R. & Hopmann, G. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Nuerosci (1995) 245: 309. doi:10.1007/BF02191873
Startle-elicited blinks were measured during the presentation of affective slides in order to investigate emotional responsiveness in 24 male healthy subjects and 34 male schizophrenic patients. Although the two groups did not differ with regard to their subjective and autonomic responses to the slide stimuli, there was a significant difference between the groups in their responses to the startle probes. Patients rated low in affective expression showed a linear response pattern comparable to that of normal controls with largest amplitudes during unpleasant slides and smallest during pleasant slides. Patients without apparent deficit in affective expression showed a quadratic relationship with smaller blink amplitudes during both pleasant and unpleasant slides. Diminished affective expression rated on the basis of a clinical interview is not associated with a general attenuation of the blink reflex or of its modulation by exposure to emotional slides. Thus, we found no indication of an impairment in the perception of affective stimuli nor of reduced appreciation of pleasant stimuli (anhedonia) in these patients.